What the Hell Happened to Eddie Murphy?

eddie murphy

Eddie Murphy

By this point in the “What the Hell Happened?” series, a pattern has developed.  The career usually begins with TV roles or modeling gigs.  Then a big break, super stardom and a stint on the A-list.

Sometimes the celebrity rides on the top of the a-list for years.  Other times, they come crashing down relatively quickly.  Eventually, their time in the spotlight ends.  Sometimes they flame out in a spectacularly public fashion.  Other times, they just walk away.

Eddie Murphy’s story breaks from the formula.  Sure, there is a rise and fall.  But in Murphy’s case, there’s not just one.

Murphy rose to superstardom, slipped into irrelevance, reinvented himself as a family friendly leading man, had a scandal, dropped into obscurity, and then threatened to stage a come back multiple times without ever actually coming back.

Murphy - SNL

Eddie Murphy – Saturday Night Live – 1980 – 1984

Murphy started performing as a stand-up comedian as a teenager.  In 1980, at the age of 19, Murphy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.  At the time, he was the youngest cast member in the history of the show.

In the early 80s, SNL was in its first real slump.  It was actually facing the possibility of cancellation.  Murphy and co-star Joe Piscopo were the sole stand-outs of the cast and arguably saved the show.  Murphy became the show’s clear star with characters like Buckwheat, Gumby and Mr. Robinson.  He also did a killer Stevie Wonder impression.

Murphy also has the distinction of being the only cast member to host the show while he was still a regular cast member.  Murphy remained on SNL until 1984.  Once he left, he would not return for over three decades.  According to Murphy:

“They were shitty to me on Saturday Night Live a couple of times after I’d left the show. They said some shitty things. There was that David Spade sketch [when Spade showed a picture of Murphy around the time of Vampire in Brooklyn and said, “Look, children, a falling star”]. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, “Hey, come on, man, it’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I’m one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are fucked up, and you guys are shitting on me?” And you know every joke has to go through all the producers, and ultimately, you know Lorne or whoever says, [Lorne Michaels voice] “OK, it’s OK to make this career crack…”

 

Eddie Murphy - 48 Hours - 1982

Eddie Murphy – 48 Hours – 1982

While Murphy was still on SNL, he made his feature film debut in 1982’s 48 Hours.

I don’t think the impact of 48 Hours can be over-stated.  It wasn’t just a smash hit.  It practically invented a genre that would dominate the film landscape for the next decade.  The buddy cop movie began with Nolte and Murphy in 48 Hours.

Murphy commented on why the movie – in which Nolte’s character says some very politically incorrect racial slurs – worked:

You know why it worked then and the reason why it wouldn’t now? My significance in film – and again I’m not going to be delusional – was that I’m the first black actor to take charge in a white world onscreen. That’s why I became as popular as I became. People had never seen that before. Black-exploitation movies, even if you dealt with the Man, it was in your neighborhood, never in their world. In 48 Hours, that’s why it worked, because I’m running it, making the story go forward. If I was just chained to the steering wheel sitting there being called “watermelon,” even back then they would have been like, “This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!”

Nolte was supposed to host SNL when the movie opened.  But he partied a little too hard and had to cancel.  Instead, Murphy – still a cast member on the show – took over the hosting duties.

Murphy was already a star thanks to SNL.  But 48 Hours made him a movie star.  Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year.  He lost to Ben Kingsley for Ghandi.

murphy - trading places

Eddie Murphy – Trading Places – 1983

The following year, Murphy teamed with SNL alumn Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places.

Murphy played a poor conman who trades places with a rich Wall Street trader played by Aykroyd.  Jamie Lee Curtis played a hooker with a heart of gold who helps Aykroyd deal with his new status quo.

Trading Places was directed by John Landis who would work with Murphy two more times.  The rich man/poor man comedy was an even greater hit than 48 Hours.  Murphy was nominated for another Golden Globe.

Eddie Murphy - Delirious - 1983

Eddie Murphy – Delirious – 1983

Murphy was 2 for 2 in Hollywood and was still a star on TV.  He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Trading Places.  Plus he had a hit stand-up comedy special in Eddie Murphy: Delirious that same year.

Murphy’s career was hot.  He wasn’t just a rising star.  He was shooting straight to the top.

Next: Beverly Hills Cop and The Golden Child

Posted on January 31, 2012, in Movies, Saturday Night Live, TV, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 235 Comments.

  1. Looks like the new beverly hills cop film is back on track…

    http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=107117

    Like

    • As always with this kind of news, I’ll believe it when it happens.

      Like

    • I’ve been reading suggestions on this particular message board that the third “BHC” movie marked the beginning of Eddie Murphy’s career decline (I personally think that “Harlem Nights” was, but whom am I to judge):
      http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=258943

      Like

      • BHC 3 signified that Murphy had crossed a line where his audience wouldn’t even follow him into familiar territory. Even Another 48 Hours did pretty well. By the time he made BHC 3, audiences stopped caring every bit as much as Murphy did.

        I’m frankly amazed he came back from that. He had one of the most remarkable comebacks of the decade.

        Like

        • Eddie Murphy (I) : When did Eddie go down hill?

          http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000552/board/flat/199027204?p=1

          by
          mcdkenny» Mon May 14 2012 07:57:34

          I have a theory that his career went down hill after he stopped doing his ‘laugh’ in films. In his yearly films he does it (Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop) but stopped doing it in films like (Norbit, Meet Dave). Might just be a coincidence and the fact that these films might have been badly written, directed and ill conceived. Just wondering if anyone agreed or had other theories.

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          ediaz8» Fri Aug 31 2012 07:45:14

          I would have to say that his career went downhill from the release of 1996’s “The Nutty Professor” onwards. I was dissapointed with 1999’s “Bowfinger” because I thought that pairing him with Steve Martin would have brought back a classic Eddie but it failed royally despite having some moderate success at the box office. Overall, every film he made after “Nutty” was mediocre. He said that he went to making kids oriented films because it was what his kids could watch. His kids are now in their late teens and hasn’t made an effort to be back to the comedy that made him famous. I liked “Tower Heist” a lot as it brought back an Eddie that was close to his 80’s form and I thought after watching it that this could be a prelude to more films like it but it hasn’t beared fruit.

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          A-zone» Thu Sep 13 2012 21:36:26

          I agree with “ediaz8″. “The Nutty Professor” and everything after it was either mediocre or plain awful. The only exception was “Dreamgirls” in which he gave a great performance, proving that he can indeed act. I think he needs to do two things to put his career back on track:

          1. Stop doing stupid “kid-family-funny” movies (which ironically are not funny nor are they liked by kids) and start doing some serious roles. Many other comedians like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey have done a variety of different roles including very dark and villainous ones. Eddie’s comedy has sadly become stale. I think he would make a great villain.
          2. Get rid of his ego. Sure he was a big star back in the 80’s and commanded an exorbitant salary but not anymore. He should stop doing movies where he is the main lead (as well as 5 other characters!) and be willing to accept smaller but meaningful roles.

          I still believe that there’s a lot of “entertainment juice” left in this machine called Eddie Murphy but he’s wasting it in the wrong roles.

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          sjmcollins-1» Tue Jan 15 2013 12:28:21

          The last great thing Eddie did was Coming To America in 1988. After that he tried (way too hard) to reinvent himself as a Don Juan romantic lead in Harlem Nights and Boomerang. Then something just seemed to die in him, and he appears to have no interest whatsoever in reviving it. It’s sad, really, because for a 8-10 year stretch he was THE man.

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          ragusa11» Sat May 4 2013 15:52:30

          The start of losing his touch was Another 48 Hours. He had a series of bad movies before he reinvented himself as a family entertainer. It happens to all comedians. Robin Williams was hot and then all of a sudden all of his movies sucked.

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          moviesrme10» Sat Jul 27 2013 07:06:56

          Eddie went down hill after The Adventures of Pluto Nash but he still kept it going steady after his first real miss. The real damage started with 2007’s Norbit, which bombed at the box office and got horrid reviews. Then we got bomb after bomb with Meet Dave, Imagine That, and the big blow was 2012’s A Thousand Words, which got 0%rating on Rotten Tomatoes, no one liked it and no one saw it, it bombed. That’s it, his career is over.

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          Volken» Fri Aug 2 2013 12:53:05

          If you remember early 90’s fashion of “intellectual posing” among many stars. Many like Sly, for example, suddenly wore glasses and insisted on the most refined presence, whenever they went public. Remember Madonna’s intellectual posing from her documentary. Sadly, this trend did not missed Eddie. He started also nobility presentations, sometimes, to such extent, that TV channels had a great fun, making them look funny while doing interviews.

          Anyone remembers the most ridiculous interview with Arsenio, where Murphy is drinking from a miniature golden glass? Holding the same just for sake of holding, because it was barely fitted for a parakee. He desperately wanted to be noble and refined, it was really embarrassing to watch.

          And yes, as much I loved watching Eddie in BH 1,2 and many great movies until Boomerang. Suddenly he was no longer hungry, and changed his signature acting. Like many others, he was too aware of himself and constantly flirting with camera. From that moment, his acting was not interesting for my taste, and hate to say, quality of his movies, never followed any originality in story or realization.

          I guess, there was a glimpse of something in Metro (1997), but, just a glimpse.

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          Thunder_Dome» Fri Aug 23 2013 12:13:19

          I’ve never seen Metro but from trailers and clips it seems like it was the last time he played a normal person (except Dreamgirls) and everything afterwards were caricatures. Look at movies like Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours/Another 48 Hours and he’s playing a normal guy that happens to be very funny.

          But ever since then he acts differently, like over-the-top gestures, etc. And yeah, him not doing the laugh anymore is just weird.

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          T-Faz» Sun Oct 20 2013 13:26:15

          When his ego went through the roof around Coming To America time. John Landis commented on the change in his personality from Beverly Hills Cop. After that, all his films become boring and lacked the charm he had showed in the early 80’s. This is until he reinvented himself as a family friendly entertainer in the mid 90’s.

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          Volken» Sun Oct 20 2013 17:27:28

          You are right about finding the second exit as family entertainment. Without it, I doubt he would path any success in box office. I’m sure Landis speaks firsthand, observing his working environment with degree of intimacy we could never learn at that time. But “Coming to America” had all ingredients to make Eddie confident performer. Starting from great cast to SNL territory where Eddie (at the time) always performed his best. Since you mention this, Yes, he was a bit different in suited “noble” remark, at the very beginning in his kingdom. But, he was still available in the rest of the movie and we didn’t suffer from this.

          Try to watch Boomerang again. There, for the very first time, I’ve asked myself : Eddie, why you changed so much?

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          T-Faz» Tue Nov 5 2013 04:55:3

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          T-Faz» Tue Nov 5 2013 04:55:35

          Boomerang isn’t a bad movie but the lead character is so unlikable. Eddie Murphy transformed into an arrogant, conceited and egotistical person by that time. The characters he played also reflected this.

          Had he remained the way he was, he could have continued to deliver great films.

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          shihab1» Mon Jan 13 2014 11:47:38

          It was over after Distinguished Gentleman. Something changed in his appearance, his acting became much more mannered( like the previous poster said, wild eyes, manic movements, phony caricatures) he seemed to lose that aura of infallible confidence that made him famous in the first place. It was his composure that made him so funny and marked him out as different; after this film it was gone.

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          I_Guard_Tanelorn» Mon Feb 3 2014 14:40:41

          The 90s and Eddie just didn’t get along. It happens, but I think he was still putting solid work out. I still think the 1st Nutty Professor is pretty damned funny. Certainly on par with any Sandler or Myers movies.

          It all started going sideways with Dr. Dolittle. There was a subtle shift in Murphy’s role in his movies where he went from making the jokes (BHC, Golden Child), to being in on the joke (Bowingfinger, I Spy), to becoming the butt of the jokes (Daddy Day Care, Norbit).

          If you wanna stay on top, you gotta be the one making the jokes.

          Like

  2. Eddie Murphys Career Highs and Lows:
    http://www.entertainmentscene360.com/index.php/eddie-murphys-career-highs-and-lows-2870/

    In the 1980s, there was simply no stopping Eddie Murphy. As the star of Beverley Hills Cop, his fame seemed to know no bounds. He went on to star in two sequels which, although perhaps not quite so popular, still did phenomenally well at the box office. He also went on to star in other hit films such as Golden Child and Coming to America.

    Skipping forward to the end of the 1990s, however, his star began to fade. He still continued to work regularly, but the films simply didn’t command the same audiences as before. His typical slapstick style of comedy was neither as fresh as before, nor was it as original. He had the occasional return to form, such as his vocal performance as the donkey in Shrek, but that wasn’t enough. There were plenty of new faces waiting in the wings and they were attracting a new generation of fans who didn’t really rate Murphy.

    Personal problems also made people see him in a different light. He divorced from wife Nicole in 2006 and shortly afterwards showed a rather unpleasant side to his personality following a relationship with former Spice Girl Mel B. When she discovered she was pregnant, Murphy denied outright that he was the father and refused to pay for child support, until Mel B was forced to organised a paternity test to prove her daughter was his. The test proved that he was, after all, the father.

    Now in 2012, it is perhaps no surprise that Murphy has just been named as the most overpaid actor in Hollywood by Forbes magazine. According to their figures, for every dollar that Murphy made in the box office, he only made back $2.30. However, compared with Drew Barrymore, who made back just 40 cents for every dollar she earned in 2011, Murphy’s figure is actually quite respectable. Barrymore apparently doesn’t qualify for this year’s list because she hasn’t had starring roles in three ‘wide-released films’ over the last three years, probably due to her family commitments.

    There are a few other big names just behind Murphy in the Forbes list. At number two was Katherine Heigl, who made back $3.40 for every dollar she earns, based on a couple of recent films that didn’t really register on the box office radar. Reese Witherspoon is surprisingly at number three, having made back just $3.90. Like Barrymore, she has recently had a baby and may well be back in the financial limelight in due course.

    When it comes to Eddie Murphy, however, the future doesn’t look too bright. 2011’s Tower Heist was supposed to be his return to the big-time, but although critically-acclaimed, it didn’t do that well at the box office. Something special will need to be in the pipeline to turn his career around.

    Like

    • The 7 Most Overpaid Actors:
      http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/the-7-most-overpaid-movie-actors/

      #4 Eddie Murphy

      Eddie Murphy has evolved his career brilliantly. After bursting into the national spotlight during his short-lived SNL career, Eddie quickly became the go-to black comedian of the 80′s. As he got older, he began focusing on family comedies with films like The Nutty Professor and Dr. Dolittle. Again, like a normal-sized black Napoleon, Eddie completely conquered the landscape in front of him.

      However, as Eddie’s fan-base gets older, they don’t recognize their beloved Eddie Murphy anymore. Recent films like Meet Dave and Imagine That (which seemed like a remake of Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories, which came out only a year earlier) have been major box office disappointments. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is the biggest summer blockbuster flop of all-time. On average for every $1 Eddie has earned, his movies brought in $4.43 so like Billy Bob, Murphy earns nearly a quarter of his films’ total gross earnings.

      Like

    • The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made:
      http://flavorwire.com/477608/the-50-worst-movies-ever-made/28

      1. Norbit

      The poor timing of this excruciating mix of fatty-fall-down jokes and deliriously minstrel-show-esque stereotypes may well have cost Eddie Murpy his Dreamgirls Oscar — which isn’t exactly fair, but it certainly seems like justice. For it’s not just a poorly made movie, but a loathsome and distasteful one to boot, consisting of a single joke, told over and over and over and over and over again, that wasn’t funny the first time. The joke is that fat people are physically repulsive, disgusting creatures. It’s mean, angry, vile, and misogynistic, and some of that might be forgivable if Norbit were funny. It isn’t. There is, no exaggeration, not one laugh to be found in it. It marked Eddie Murphy’s creative nadir (which is saying something), and if we’re lucky, it’s the worst film he’ll ever make. I shudder to imagine one that’s worse.

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  3. Showtime (2002):
    http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/488692/showtime-2002

    I watched this film recently and I have to say it wasn’t bad at all. Good under-appreciated comedy with Eddie Murphy and Robert DeNiro.

    Like

  4. 10 Huge Hollywood Actors We All Loved (But Now Hate):
    http://whatculture.com/film/10-huge-hollywood-actors-loved-now-hate.php/5

    7. Eddie Murphy

    We Love You Moment: Beverley Hills Cop (1984)

    It’s seems like a long time since Eddie Murphy was the most popular star and biggest box office attraction on the planet but that’s exactly what he was in the eighties. After making his film debut with 48 Hrs. a revelation was born and he followed that with the excellent Trading Places and then the film that would make him an international star; Beverley Hills Cop.

    By the time Another 48 Hrs. (1990) hit cinemas he had hit after hit with a (good) sequel to Beverley Hills Cop, The Golden Child, Coming To America and RAW, the highest grossing stand-up film ever released at the time. His natural charisma, talent and incredibly foul yet funny mouth made him the biggest and most loved star on the planet.

    We Want A Divorce Moment: Beverley Hills Cop III (1994)

    No actor has suffered such an incredible drop off in quality like Edward Reagan Murphy and it all started with the castration of his most famous character in Beverley Hills Cop III. The success of Shrek and Nutty Professor are merely blips on an otherwise downward trajectory that features such abominations to entertainment as Vampire In Brooklyn, Life, Holy Man, Showtime, Pluto Nash, I-Spy, The Haunted Mansion. Norbit, Meet Dave and Imagine That.

    The worst part? A young Eddie Murphy would be ashamed of his older self. Try watching the brilliant RAW now and not cringing when he mocks Bill Cosby pleading with him not to use cuss words anymore. Often imitated but never bettered when it came to cussing, it’s a real shame his balls dropped off when he got old. Back in the day he could have always counted on the female vote too but since challenging the paternity of Mel B’s child he’s lost that as well. D’oh.

    Chances Of Getting Back Together: Regretfully none. The shine has well and truly come off this former golden child.

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    • REALLY RUBBISH: Beverly Hills Cop III (1994):
      http://mumbyatthemovies.blogspot.com/2013/09/really-rubbish-beverly-hills-cop-iii.html

      Posted on 01:33 by Daniel Mumby

      Beverly Hills Cop III (USA, 1994)
      Directed by John Landis
      Starring Eddie Murphy, Timothy Carhart, Judge Reinhold, Héctor Elizondo

      I’ve spoken at grat length in my film reviews about the disappointing nature of threequels. Most of the time the disappointment comes from the first film or two films being really good and the third one falling short – but with Beverly Hills Cop the bar wasn’t all that high to begin with. Nonetheless, Beverly Hills Cop III is the weakest instalment in the trilogy, with both John Landis and Eddie Murphy on autopilot and neither really wanting to be there.

      As a film enthusiast, you’re always looking to find the best in any given film. If a film is not great, you praise the bits that are good. If none of it is good, you argue that it’s not memorably bad. If it is memorably bad, you put the case that it’s so-bad-it’s-good. And if it’s offensively terrible (or terribly offensive), you try and argue that such offense could have some perverse cultural value. From this point of view the hardest films to defend – and the hardest to review – are those which are bad in a boring way, and Beverly Hills Cop III is a very bad, very boring film.

      Considering how much I have criticised Simpson and Bruckheimer, it is ironic that the emptiest film in the series should be the one in which they had the least involvement. The high-concept duo left the project in the late-1980s, feeling that the story (as it was then) was too similar to that of Ridley Scott’s thriller Black Rain. By the time Steven E. de Souza came on board, the film was being pitched as “Die Hard in a theme park”, which was itself watered down as the budget was cut and Joel Silver jumped ship. The inertia that dogged the film’s production is all too evident on screen, with both director and cast having a load of props but no idea how or why they should use them.

      You could make the observation at this point that the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy is one of progressive narrative disengagement. The first film had good potential in its plot and a decent comic conceit, but it never really made the most of either and came out a little undercooked. BHC II rehashed the plot but gave even less credit to the audience’s intelligence, resulting in a film that was flashy, asinine and dull. BHC III is arguably the most cynical, since there is no effort put into any part of its creative vision: it just sits there unwanted for 100 minutes, boring and depressing us, and then it’s gone.

      Despite its incredibly cynical nature, however, it’s very hard to get angry at BHC III. You want to summon up a ball of rage against it, denounce the system that produced it, or John Landis for directing it, or Eddie Murphy was thinking it was a good script. But there is nothing in the film that could produce such a reaction, no matter how hard we try. Even with the re-emergence of Serge, one of the most annoying and offensive aspects of the first film, this is ultimately too boring and goofy to induce anger.

      There are many bad films that induce anger because they squander great potential – The Millionairess and Atlantis being prime examples. But BHC III has very little potential to start with, and so when that potential isn’t fulfilled upon, it almost plays to our expectations. Both Murphy and Landis’ reputations for quality had taken hits by this juncture, leading us to revise our expectations downwards and hope for something serviceable. When we don’t even get that, the stakes are too low to generate anything more than a mild twinge of disappointment.

      Putting aside the lengthy production problems, much of the failure of BHC III can be blamed on Eddie Murphy. Landis took the gig knowing that the script wasn’t any good, on the grounds that Martin Brest had got around the same problem by letting Murphy improvise. But when Landis tried to feed Murphy shtick or give him room to move, Murphy refused to say the lines or do anything funny. If Bronson Pinchot is to be believed, Murphy was very jealous of the success enjoyed by Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington in straight roles, and tried to steer away from anything that made Axel Foley a “wiseass” (i.e. pretty much everything). Some of Pinchot’s longer scenes were shot with just Landis, which might explain why so many of the jokes fall flat.

      Because Murphy is so unwilling to play ball, all of the moments in BHC III that could have been funny take on an odd and awkward feeling. The lengthy final set-piece on the Wonderworld rides feels like it was originally written as a big comic finale – perhaps along the lines of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, where every aspect of a building is used to source a joke or generate tension. But with Murphy missing all his cues, the other actors seem unsure of how to play the scenes, and the film increasingly feels like a comedy which is trying to escape itself.

      Throughout the film there are little glimpses of Landis’ comedic pedigree, but all these moments are so out of context that they almost feel like a pastiche. There’s an early musical number, with the car-jackers dancing around to Diana Ross and the Supremes, but that’s surrounded by attempts at serious build-up, including the killing-off of Foley’s boss. The disintegration of Murphy’s car in the ensuing chase might have worked in The Blues Brothers (or the Pink Panther series), but here it feels bizarre and unnecessary. The film continually fails at comedy, either by pulling up short of its punch lines or having no sense of timing.

      At the very least, you would expect Landis to have made more of the theme park setting. Even if the physical or situational comedy fell flat, you could argue that there would be some value in a comedy which tried to poke fun at the corporate paranoia of Disney and the like. But as with its big set-pieces, the more dialogue-driven scenes are void of ambition; the satire is bald if not completely non-existent, and there are episodes of Scooby Doo with greater tension as to the identity of the villain.

      The only other characteristic of BHC III that is becoming of Landis is the abundance of cameos. In my review of Burke & Hare, I praised Landis for his restraint in this regard, only bringing people in for a good knowing laugh – whether it’s Jenny Agutter playing a hammy actress, or Michael Winner going off a cliff in a stagecoach. His use of cameos here is far more akin to Into The Night, with a host of famous film faces turning up for little to no good reason. The most obvious and awkward of these is George Lucas, whom Murphy forces off the ferris wheel just before he saves the children.

      This brings us on nicely (or rather not) to the issue of exploitation. Not only is the film’s satire of the Disney culture incredibly bald, but it often falls into the opposite trap and becomes as blatantly manipulative as the theme parks itself. The entire action scene involving Murphy saving the children is a shameless attempt to engender empathy with his character – empathy that is never justified at any other point before or after. Likewise Theresa Randle’s character gets nothing to do except be put in situations where Axel can save her or hit on her. While she’s by no means the worst example of a damsel in distress in fiction, it’s still a very cheap trick.

      The performances in BHC III are all immensely lacklustre. Murphy sets the tone, looking either bored or frustrated and giving the distinct impression that he has fallen out of love with the character. Judge Reinhold is largely phoning it in, making very little of Billy’s new powers and having no-one to bounce off (both Ronny Cox and John Ashton declined to appear). Timothy Carhart makes the very least of his villain, hitting most of the beats he needs to but not leaving any lasting impression. Even Alan Young, most famous for voicing Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales, doesn’t particularly register: he does the minimum that is required, and then leaves as soon as he can.

      Beverly Hills Cop III is a boring and depressing end to a franchise that barely got off the ground in the first place. With both its star and director working against their strengths and no effort being expended on the script, the film trudges and slumps from one failed joke to the next before eventually collapsing in a sorry heap. Ultimately it’s too boring to get too angry about, but it remains a low point in the careers of all involved.

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  5. Since now directors have started to get their own WTHHT articles, I wonder if Eddie Murphy’s “Trading Places”, “Coming to America”, and “Beverly Hills Cop III” director John Landis deserves one? The irony regarding Landis is the whole tragedy involving Vic Marrow’s death during the making of “The Twilight Zone” movie didn’t seem to completely ruin Landis’ career as an A-list director, but once he entered the ’90s w/ flicks like BHC3″ and “Blues Brothers 2000″, that really did him in.

    http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46334&page=15

    Like

    • And since we’re on the subject of Eddie Murphy’s old directors, I also wouldn’t mind seeing Eddie’s “Beverly Hills Cop” (the first one) director Martin Brest get a WTHHT. It seems like the horrible response that “Gigli” received caused Brest to pretty much give up film-making all together.

      Like

    • I would count John Landis among my favorite comedy directors. Just look at his output from 1978 to 1988: Animal House in 1978, The Blues Brothers in 1980, An American Werewolf In London in 1981, Trading Places in 1983, Three Amigos in 1986 and Coming To America in 1988. There’s some great movies in there. Say what you will but Landis had a tremendous 10 years as a filmmaker.

      Like

      • Yeah he did have a good run. Unfortunately that run ended the minute the 80s were over. Like many directors he had a lot of success for a period, then once that ended he more or less became a journeyman.

        Like

        • I don’t think he was ever the same after the Twilight Zone disaster and trial. Coming to America came after that, but aside from that movie which was largely carried by Murphy, Landis’ best days were behind him.

          I always wonder how talented he really was vs. lucky to be working with such immense comedic talents.

          I will give him credit for chasing Chevy Chase away from Animal House. Had it turned into SNL the Movie as intended, it would not have been nearly as good. I also give him credit for reading Dan Aykroyd’s script for Blues Brothers and saying “Dan, we can’t possibly do this.”

          I think American Werewolf shows Landis’ talent the best. But even that movie has some very lethargic pacing. And then it just kind of ends.

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          • And let’s not forget Landis also directed the music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 1983! I almost never mention director’s work when it comes to music videos, but Thriller is one of the most iconic music videos of all time, it’s such a classic, great video that it deserves a mention for Landis.

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  6. Has Any Comedic Actor Ever Come Close to 1980s Eddie Murphy?

    http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showpost.php?p=4813317&postcount=1

    From 1982 to 1989, Eddie Murphy starred in 9 films. Three of these films (Best Defense, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Harlem Nights) are either completely forgettable, terribly mediocre, or both. However, let’s take a look at his other six films:

    1) 48 Hours: Borderline classic comedy.

    2) Trading Places: BIG TIME classic comedy.

    3) Beverly Hills Cop: BIG TIME classic comedy.

    4) The Golden Child: Originally a flop, but now a cult classic.

    5) Eddie Murphy Raw: One of the greatest stand-up films ever made.

    6) Coming To America: BIG TIME classic comedy.

    Not only have most of these films stood the test of time, but I am now hard pressed to think of any other comedian who had an equally stellar streak in their career. Only three other comedians come to mind that one could make an argument for: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and Will Ferrell.

    Like

    • 12 Terrible Movies That Killed An Actor’s Winning Streak:
      http://whatculture.com/film/12-terrible-movies-that-killed-an-actors-winning-streak.php/11

      1. The Distinguished Gentleman – Eddie Murphy

      The Streak: Right out of the gate, Eddie Murphy had an untouchable run of movies, beginning with 48 Hrs and following with Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and its sequel, The Golden Child, stand-up comedy film Eddie Murphy: Raw, Coming to America, Harlem Nights, Another 48 Hours and Boomerang. Even if his movies didn’t always hit with critics, they always blew up the box office. Hell, even his stand-up comedy film made more than $50 million.

      The Film That Broke It: Despite having enormous potential as a game political satire, The Distinguished Gentleman flopped with critics and did unimpressive business at the box office, ensuring that audiences wouldn’t just lap up everything that Murphy served up, even though it certainly seemed that way for a while.

      Current Status: Murphy hasn’t had a hot streak this strong ever since and almost certainly never will again. Though he has still enjoyed fitful box office success over the years, especially with the Shrek franchise, he well and truly hit the skids in the late 2000s with a string of critical and financial flops, such as Meet Dave, Imagine That and A Thousand Words. With a Beverly Hills Cop IV apparently on the way, this might be the movie to revive his stagnating career, or perhaps it’ll just seal his fate forever more. In any event, Murphy seems quite content making music these days, so he probably doesn’t care all that much.

      Like

  7. 10 Actors Who Need To Stop Flogging A Dead Horse:
    http://whatculture.com/film/10-actors-need-stop-flogging-dead-horse.php/11

    1. Eddie Murphy

    Done To Death: Beverly Hills Cop (and playing multiple roles in the same movie).

    There was a time when Eddie Murphy was the most hilarious thing in Hollywood: he was handsome, fast-talking, and above all he was a pretty good actor, killing it on Saturday Night Live for four straight years. And by the time he was cast in his first leading role in Beverly Hills Cop in 1984 he was a force to be reckoned with in the world of big-budget comedy.

    Then, in the mid-’90s, Murphy’s roles became increasingly ridiculous. In the wake of Beverly Hills Cop III came Vampire In Brooklyn, which replicated the gimmick of Murphy’s earlier film Coming To America, in which he played multiple characters at the same time, but failed laughably. His next film was The Nutty Professor, which was built entirely around that gimmick, and movies like Norbit kept right on going without any self-awareness.

    With Triplets upcoming, it’s recently been announced that Murphy is going back to Beverly Hills Cop to reinvigorate another old comedy franchise, and it’s hard not to think that Murphy isn’t even the best man for his own old job. After more than a decade of no success, it would be far better to see Axel Foley rebooted, rather than him hanging on to an old success story, and it’s hard to see the film working, unless someone like Shane Black is brought in.

    Like

    • Mother Brain’s Top 10 Unproduced Movie Sequels:
      http://cosblog.cosmelentertainment.com/2012/05/29/mother-brains-top-10-unproduced-movie-sequels/

      1. Beverly Hills Cop 4

      Contrary to popular belief, the 4th adventure of Eddie Murphy’s hip cop from Detroit, Axel Foley, was initially planned after the release of Beverly Hills Cop II when producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer considered an idea to shoot the 3rd and 4th films back to back overseas in Europe and Asia. Eddie’s falling track record, however, killed that idea which resulted in the half-assed Beverly Hills Cop III in 1994. Determined to bring life back into the franchise, Eddie sought after numerous writers to come up with a new premise to return back to the fish out of water roots of Cop I. From the mid 90s and on, screenwriters such as John Ridley (Red Tails) and Dan Gordon (The Hurricane) wrote drafts in which Axel battled terrorists in London and Paris. But the closest it came into production was in 2008 when Brett Ratner was hired to direct a screenplay by Wanted screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. The premise involved Axel returning to Beverly Hills to avenge the murder of series favorite Billy Rosewood at the hands of dirty cops while gaining a new young cop sidekick intended for Jonah Hill to play. Fans lashed out on the internet over the decision to deep six the supporting characters and Paramount lost faith in Eddie after a string of more family movie failures. Now there’s talk of a TV series about Axel’s son.

      Like

  8. I love Eddie Murphy movies, I wish he would make some more. He makes me laugh so hard, what a wonderful actor, all the different parts, and so believeable too.
    Come back Eddie!

    Like

  9. 12 Actors Who Basically Guarantee You Make A Flop:
    http://whatculture.com/film/12-actors-basically-guarantee-make-flop.php/6

    1. Eddie Murphy

    Few entries on this list make us as sad as Eddie Murphy, a tremendously talented comedian who simply stopped putting any effort in around the year 2000, and though audiences stuck with him for a while, his luck eventually ran out.

    In his defense, Murphy’s commitment to voice-over and ensemble work has netted him a few hits over the last decade, such as three Shrek movies, Tower Heist and Dreamgirls (which even netted him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor), though only a single movie sold on his name alone actually made any money, and that’s the terrible Norbit.

    This appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, because all three of Murphy’s starring projects that followed, Meet Dave, Imagine That and A Thousand Words, flopped spectacularly. If we go back a little further, of course, Murphy also starred in 2002′s The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which became one of the biggest box office bombs in cinematic history, and who can forget the massive box office failure that was Holy Man? Still, Murphy has pretty much been lucky enough throughout his career to balance his flops with a few major hits, even if nowadays that mostly means using his voice or appearing within a large cast.

    Why Is He A Flop? It appears that even casual viewers who sunk their money into Norbit have grown fed up of Murphy’s boisterous shtick, because he’s not appeared in a movie for two years since A Thousand Words flopped, hopefully signalling a career re-think on his part.

    With Beverly Hills Cop 4 and Triplets (a sequel to the movie Twins) on the way, perhaps it’s time for Murphy’s comeback, though the question remains: will audiences be interested in watching Murphy front and center anymore? Essentially, Murphy isn’t entirely uncastable, but it looks as though his time as a leading man might be over.

    Like

    • Adam Sandler (I) : Can his career be saved?

      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001191/board/flat/236881714?d=236881714#236881714

      I remember how, at mid-2011, everyone we’re talking about Eddie Murphy’s comeback with Tower Heist about to slay the November box office to became the next Ocean’s Eleven and Murphy hosting the Academy Awards. Paramount even attempted to take advantage of it by moving the long delayed A Thousand Words to a couple of weeks after the awards… then Murphy quit the Oscars, Tower Heist did so-so money at the box office and A Thousand Words bombed in every sense of the word. He hasn’t done anything in years and his next film (first one in almost 4 years) is going to be a Beverly Hills Cop sequel/reboot/spiritual succesor

      Now, with Adam Sandler something similar is happening: After Click, his serious efforts (like the crowd-pleaser Reign Over Me or the high profile Funny People) have been ignored, and his comedies have been either midly received under performers (Zohan, Just Go With It) or poorly reviewed “hits” (Grown Ups, Chuck & Larry)… then he combined the worst of both kinds (pporly received under performer) with Jack & Jill and everything went in a downward spiral from there with the bombs That’s My Boy and Blended, and the parenthesis that are Grown Ups 2 (his first sequel) and Hotel Transylvania (his first major animated release).

      For me, it felt that he attempted a comeback that, for several reasons, has backfired even before it officialy ends:

      • Men, Women and Children was his Oscar-bait movie but bombed horribly and would be forgotten in a couple of years at best
      • The Cobbler was Sandler going indie (like Jim Carrey in Philip Morris) and, with a small distributor and bad reviews it’s very likely it gets lost and, just like MW&C, quickly forgotten
      • And now all comes to Pixels, his first blockbuster. Sony has a lot of confidence in it but, unless it becames a Bruce Almighty-like hit, it’s not going to help Sandler too much.

      Now, with the whole Netflix deal and the “movie star concept is dead” stuff, I think he needs a huge reinvention or something. What do you think? I’ve been thinking a lot about this because two months ago I was honestly excited with MW&C and The Cobbler… and now I don’t know what to think. He doesn’t have a brand to hold on like Murphy or Myers (who is attempting a comeback with Austin Powers 4).

      Like

  10. iam a big fan of your work but rob i think with the triplets sequel he is big need for a comeback

    Like

    • If so, that’s a sorry state for his career to be in.

      Honestly, I don’t think anything will bring Murphy back in a big way. Not even reviving Beverly Hills Cop. I just don’t think the guy wants to be famous any more.

      Like

  11. his problem is most a good portion of his career he went the kid friendly route he needs go to his roots and have make adult comedies like he use to

    Like

    • I’m not going to totally fault Eddie in wanting to do more kid friendly or family friendly movies. I mean I’m sure that Eddie was at a much different perspective in his life when he made stuff like “Daddy Day Care” and “The Hunted Mansion” (when he was in his 40s) than when he was making “48 HRs” and “Beverly Hills Cop” (when he was in his early 20s). I mean, should we have criticized Robin Williams for occasionally doing a more family friendly movie like “RV” for example?

      With that being said, I think the problem wasn’t necessarily so much in Eddie wanting to do those types of movies period, as much as perhaps they didn’t really maximize his talents. They seemed more like quick paydays instead of something that he was truly passionate about. It seemed like in stuff like “Daddy Day Care”, “Dr. Doolittle”, “Imagine That”, and “The Hunted Mansion”, Eddie was more or less, playing the straight man (either to little, rambunctious kids, talking animals, or special effects). In effect, instead of making jokes, Eddie sort of became the butt of them. Eddie was practically so stripped of whatever made him interesting as an onscreen persona that you could’ve just about put anybody in those types of movies and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

      Like

  12. The Mt. Rushmore of Stand up comics…:
    http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/506003/mt-rushmore-stand-comics?page=2

    Post by DrBackflipsHoffman on 20 hours ago
    Eddie Murphy doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near a Mt. Rushmore of stand up comedy, sorry. He was a fine comic actor for a while, but his stand up material just doesn’t cut it. Small parts of Delirious are harmless juvenile bulls*** like the BBQ routine and the stuff about James Brown and Stevie Wonder, but given you’d be putting what’s available from Murphy up against the material people like Pryor, Carlin, Hicks, Bruce and Cosby have, it’s a no contest. You’d be better off giving Police Academy 4 a place before Murphy.

    Like

  13. he does deserve it turning down pryor biopic was dumb oscar written all over it

    Like

  14. i dont think its right to compare his career to stallone as good as stalone his body of work cannot touch eddies eddies movies gross more hes still seen as more as a box office draw out side 3 franchises stallone has no classics eddie has a ton plus dreamgirls proved eddie has chops stallone has some too but not like eddie

    Like

    • The Actors Who Were Almost Axel Foley Before Eddie Murphy Turned The Detroit Cop Into An 80s Icon:
      http://uproxx.com/filmdrunk/2014/12/the-actors-who-were-almost-axel-foley-before-eddie-murphy-turned-the-detroit-cop-into-an-80s-icon/

      Sylvester Stallone

      Out of all the actors that were almost Axel Foley, Sly came the closest. The final draft of the script was actually developed with him in mind, but in order for him to commit to the project, Stallone had to do what Stallone does: rewrite most of it. In an interview with Ain’t It Cool in 2006, Stallone recounted his side of the story:

      When I read the script for BEVERLY HILLS COP, I thought they’d sent it to the wrong house. Somehow, me trying to comically terrorize Beverly Hills is not the stuff that great yuk-festivals are made from. So I re-wrote the script to suit what I do best, and by the time I was done, it looked like the opening scene from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN on the beaches of Normandy. Believe it or not, the finale was me in a stolen Lamborghini playing chicken with an oncoming freight train being driven by the ultra-slimy bad guy. Needless to say, they dropkicked me and my script out of the office, and the rest is history.

      The other side of the story, is that Stallone left the picture after having a disagreement with the producers over the kind of orange juice that would be provided to his trailer, although that tale seems to be more fable than truth. Don Simpson explained, in an interview with the New York Times in 1984, that they just didn’t agree on a final draft:

      Sly’s rewrite had heart, passion and pathos. It was superb. It had more edge and more of the blood vengeance motif. But it didn’t have the fish-out-of- water theme or the tension between street-smart and ”by-the-book” police.

      After two days of negotiations, Sly was ousted, the producers’ version of the script was reinstated, and Eddie Murphy was called upon to fill the role. Stallone would use his version of the script for portions of his police action-drama, Cobra. The rest is history.

      Martin Brest told the New York Times, ”It’s spooky but every time we got into a jam, I’d turn to Eddie and say, ‘Can you come up with something?’ And every time, he came up with something that knocked me to the floor. He’s a director’s dream. He magnifies every bit of work you do by a thousandfold.”

      Like

  15. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3589140/board/thread/233444177 i smell oscar gold eddie will play miles davis it will be his best performance since dreamgirls

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  16. eddie should do drama this miles davis biopic right direction he does drama better then jim carrey dream girls amazing

    Like

  17. Great write-up of Eddie Murphy, but one important correction: the article begins “At 17, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live”. This is incorrect. Eddie was born April 3, 1961, and his first appearance on SNL was in November, 1980, which would’ve made him 19 on his SNL debut. Otherwise, great write-up as always.

    On a sidenote, at 19 I think Eddie Murphy is still the second-youngest SNL cast member ever, behind only Anthony Michael Hall who was 17 when he joined. When I watch old clips of Eddie’s days on SNL, or I watch 48 Hrs. or Delirious or Trading Places or Beverly Hills Cop, it’s hard to believe that he was only in his late teens/early 20’s during that time.

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    • I hope I didn’t offend you by calling out Eddie’s age mistake, Lebeau.

      Like

      • Oh hell no. Don’t worry about that at all. I meant to respond to that comment with a “thank you” but got caught up in recording a podcast instead.

        The main reason there hasn’t been a new WTHH article in a while is that I have been going back and cleaning up the existing ones for the last couple of months. It’s been a massive under-taking. I’m working backwards and I just got through Jennifer Jason Leigh. So I’ll be working on the Eddie Murphy article real soon. When I do, I intend to incorporate the correction.

        I read the Murphy was 17 info somewhere on line when I originally wrote the article. But you know how reliable the internet can be. I did verify that your info is correct. And I value accuracy over my ego every time. So I am always grateful and never upset when someone corrects me.

        So thanks again. Totally cool.

        Like

        • Great, thanks! The only other item in Murphy’s article I think is worth amending would be the Beverly Hills Cop tv pilot that never happened. When the article was written a couple years ago it was still in development, but later CBS passed. It’s one of those rare fascinating cancelled pilots, supposedly Eddie Murphy was actually great in the pilot but since he was only willing to do a couple episodes a season and have Axel Foley’s son carry the show, CBS decided not to go ahead with it. A shame it never aired. But there seems to be a silver lining. Eddie apparently impressed enough in the pilot that Paramount now is going ahead with Beverly Hills Cop 4, scheduled for March 2016. So long as they still use Axel Foley’s theme (a must!), I’m in.

          Like

          • Absolutely. I will make sure to hit that as well. Feel free to point out any incorrect or outdated info you may see in ANY of the articles. I’ll never be offended. Promise!

            Like

          • BHC 4? I’m in too!
            Also, Craig, this does underscore yet again, just how Leb is in my mind, a gold standard among bloggers. After having gotten into the blogging world a bit late, due to my advanced age from a time when we had NONEOFTHIS, it took me a while to adjust. Some forums, where I helpfully offered corrections, well, let’s just say… were… NOT APPRECIATED in so many words. so I learned to take a step back and keep those suggestions to myself. At Leblog, suggested corrections are actually taken in the spirit intended… just one of the many reasons this is one of the better blogs around.
            OK Back to reading about football
            RB out :)

            Like

            • Exactly right RB, that’s sort of why I tip-toed around and apologized for bringing up the mistake about Eddie’s age in joining SNL, worried I might offend. Lebeau is the gold standard for me, too. Keep up the great work, Lebeau!

              On a side note about Beverly Hills Cop 4, it is winding up with a very interesting past. It was in development almost a decade ago, but Paramount eventually passed, and while I’m merely speculating maybe it was because Eddie’s star has faded in recent years. So BHC4 instead goes into development as a tv series, with Axel Foley’s son becoming the focus as an up-and-coming cop with Eddie intended to make occasional appearances throughout the series as the Chief of Police in Beverly Hills. Word is Eddie was great, but since he would only do a couple episodes a season CBS passes. But, Eddie apparently knocked it out of the park with his performance in the filmed tv pilot, so much so that Paramount reconsiders letting Eddie Murphy do a theatrical Beverly Hills Cop again, and is currently planned for a March 2016 release. BHC4 never would happen at this point save for the fact that Eddie apparently impressed the higher ups with his performance in the tv pilot. As I said, a very interesting past. I just wish they would toss that failed pilot on Youtube or something, Eddie must have been really good to make Paramount reconsider doing a theatrical Beverly Hills Cop movie.

              Like

              • Craig, no worries. I’m a tough guy to offend. Your feedback is always welcome. I know it is always constructive.

                I’m getting closer and closer to the Eddie article. (Reworking Travolta today.) When I do update this one, I’ll incorporate all of this helpful BHC4 info.

                Like

            • I believe it is a strength to know one’s limitations. Yes, I am fallible. I aspire not to be, but sadly I have yet to get anywhere near that goal. So when someone points out a mis-step, I am appreciative. It gives me a chance to correct the error before someone else sees it. That helps me make a better impression on new readers which helps me grow the site. All good things. And all I have to do is swallow my pride a bit and admit that sometimes I make mistakes. I can deal with that.

              I do draw the line at trolling. We were visited by a troll the other day who opened the conversation by stating that the article she had read was a waste of time and filled with fluff rather than the information she was looking for. Daffy helpfully highlighted the section of the article that addressed her concerns, but she was not satisfied. If you’re going to be rude, I’m going to pull out the snark to keep you in line.

              I also get a little irritated when people presume to tell me the criteria for the WTHH series. It’s my series. I make up the criteria. If I say someone qualifies, they qualify. We can debate just about anything else. You think someone is still A-list? Fine, we can talk about that. You think someone never was A-list? That’s open for debate. Just keep it civil. But don’t tell me the rules of the series I created. After 4 years, that is one argument I’m sick of having.

              You guys have established yourselves as sensible participants in the conversation here. So even if you said something that was a little off, I’d give you the benefit of the doubt. So no worries. Keep the feedback coming.

              Like

  18. his film debut was a box office doing that give any actor an ego acheiving success that age he was 20 when it was a hit. Morgan freeman had his big break at 50 street smart (unless u could electric company) he said it was good he hit his big break cause his younger self couldnt handle the fame

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  19. If there were one former SNL cast member I would most love to see return to host, it would be Eddie Murphy. After leaving SNL he returned only one time in late 84 to promote Beverly Hills Cop, and he absolutely killed. Unfortunately since then he has refused to do any retrospective tv shows or books over the years, and honestly getting Eddie back to host again would probably take nothing less than a miracle, but I for one would love to see him return. Since this is the 40th anniversary of SNL I’ve noticed that they have been bringing back many of its former cast members this year (Sarah Silverman and Bill Hader recently hosted, and Chris Rock is confirmed for a future episode), so this would be a good time for Lorne to attempt to lure him back. Unlikely, sure, but hey, stranger things have happened….

    Like

    • I don’t think Murphy can be lured. They would LOOOOOOOVE to have him. I just added a bit to the article about the source of Murphy’s bad blood with the show.

      Like

      • That is a really interesting quote, one I had not heard from Murphy before. I do remember David Spade making that joke about Murphy’s career in the early 90’s, I didn’t know that created the bad blood between him and SNL. He does draw an interesting distinction though, it’s ok to make fun of one of his movies, but not his career. Because I’m one of you guys! That certainly draws a line for him. If Lorne Michaels called him and offered a sincere apology and then asked him to host again, then who knows what could happen, it’s not mission impossible, its more like mission improbable. But Murphy would definately be my #1 pick for return hosts.

        Like

      • A Brief History of Eddie Murphy Hating ‘SNL':
        http://news.moviefone.com/2011/10/05/a-brief-history-of-eddie-murphy-hating-snl/

        Rumors are swirling that Eddie Murphy may make a surprise appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend when his ‘Tower Heist’ co-star Ben Stiller hosts. This will probably not happen. Eddie Murphy absolutely hates ‘Saturday Night Live’ and has not appeared on the show that made him a star since he hosted back on Dec. 15, 1984. Not only has Murphy never attended the various ‘SNL’ anniversary shows, but he was also one of only to living cast members (along with Dennis Miller) to refuse to talk with Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller for the excellent book ‘Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.’ Just in case Murphy does appear this weekend, however, perhaps it’s time to take a look back at the history of Eddie Murphy hating ‘Saturday Night Live.’

        1980

        Murphy’s tenure at ‘SNL’ started auspiciously enough. Lorne Michaels, after five years, had left the show along with the entire cast. Jean Doumanian was tapped as Michaels’s replacement as executive producer — a job she would not hold for long, as she oversaw what’s regarded as the worst season the show has ever seen — and set out to hire a brand new cast.

        Fortunately for Doumanian, a young talent named Eddie Murphy would fall in her lap from pretty much out of nowhere. Unfortunately for Doumanian, she passed on Murphy and instead cast Robert Townsend as “the black guy on the show,” as talent coordinator Neil Levy quotes her in ‘Live from New York.’ Levy goes on to say that he had to threaten to quit in order to get Murphy hired. Which he eventually did — as a featured player. So, yes: a cast that saw the likes of Robin Duke, Ann Riley and Denny Dillon as full-time members would only include Murphy as a featured player.

        1981

        After Doumanian was fired, Dick Ebersol took over executive producer duties at ‘SNL.’ Ebersol realized immediately that the show had a star languishing in the background and immediately put Murphy front and center. During a season that ‘SNL’ was almost canceled, Murphy put the show on his back. It could be argued that Murphy is the reason that ‘SNL’ still lives on today. (Hold this thought.)

        1982

        On Dec. 11, Murphy hosted ‘SNL’ for the first time. He was already such a star at this point that when Nick Nolte was too sick to host, Murphy — who was still a cast member — took over the hosting duties.

        1983

        After the success of ’48 Hours,’ Murphy was a bona fide movie star. In an unprecedented move — one that would never happen under a Lorne Michaels led show — Ebersol offered Murphy a contract that only required the star of the show to appear live on 10 of the 20 shows. Also an unprecedented move: Murphy was allowed to pre-tape segments that would later run on the live show.

        1984

        Murphy’s last show as a cast member was on Feb. 25, 1984. The host was journalist Edwin Newman.

        On Dec. 15, 1984, Murphy would return one last time, as host, during Ebersol’s last season (nicknamed “The Steinbrenner Season” for all of the already known talent that was hired such as Billy Crystal and Martin Short). It was on this show that “White Like Me,” one of the most iconic sketches in the history of ‘SNL,’ would air. This was the last time Murphy ever appeared on ‘SNL’ in any capacity. Murphy never worked under either of Lorne Michaels’s regimes.

        The Hollywood Minute Incident

        David Spade, hosting an early ’90s ‘SNL’ segment during “Weekend Update” called “Hollywood Minute,” quipped, “Look children, a falling star,” as Eddie Murphy’s picture was displayed in the background. Murphy, who is the only reason that ‘SNL’ didn’t find itself canceled during the early 1980s, was furious.

        In a 1997 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Spade said, “Chris Rock told me, ‘Spade, Eddie’s got his biggest movie in 10 years, a beautiful wife, and he still can’t shake the fact that you took a swipe at him.'”

        1999

        Eddie Murphy is the only major alumnus who does not attend the ‘SNL’ primetime 25th anniversary show.

        2002

        Eddie Murphy and Dennis Miller are the only cast members who refuse to participate in ‘Live From New York.’

        2011

        Murphy co-stars in ‘Tower Heist,’ a film that could be his first “edgy” comedic role in arguabl, 20 years. His co-star, Ben Stiller, is the host of ‘SNL’ this weekend — promoting a film that not only co-stars Murphy, but is directed by Murphy’s friend, Brett Ratner. Not only that, Murphy desperately needs a live-action hit — something that could be helped by the buzz created by a much overdue return to ‘SNL.’ Whether that actually happens, remains to be seen.

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  20. A follow up on Eddie’s comment. According to David Spade in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 1997, he was asked if Eddie was still furious at him: “Chris Rock told me, ‘Spade, Eddie’s got his biggest movie in 10 years, a beautiful wife, and he still can’t shake the fact that you took a swipe at him”. And this was years after Spade made his insult about Murphy, so yeah it sounds like he holds a grudge about that. Thank a lot, Spade! You ruined my chances of ever seeing Eddie host SNL again because of your stupid joke!

    Like

  21. the biopic of miles davis look good dreamgirls proved he can do drama

    Like

  22. Eddie Murphy Not Happy With Beverly Hills Cop 4 Script:
    http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/eddie-murphy/242802/eddie-murphy-not-happy-with-beverly-hills-cop-4-script

    Beverly Hills Cop 4 may have hit a problem, as Eddie Murphy suggests it’s not as close as we thought…

    It might just be that, after a string of movies that veered not on the side of good, Eddie Murphy has got some quality control back into his film work.

    His next big project is set to be Beverly Hills Cop 4, a film that needs to work hard to erase the near-franchise killer that was Beverly Hills Cop 3. Murphy is set to reprise the role of Axel Foley, and Brett Ratner is set to direct. A 2016 release date had been mooted.

    There may yet be a spanner in the proverbial works, though.

    In a chat with Rolling Stone, Eddie Murphy was asked if Beverly Hills Cop 4 was coming along. “Nah, they still trying to get that script right”, he said. “I’m not doing a Beverly Hills Cop unless they have a really incredible script,” he added.

    It’s okay, we’re thinking it too.

    “I’ve read a couple of things that look like they can make some paper. But I’m not doing a shitty movie just to make some paper. The shit got to be right”, Murphy added.

    Paramount is still looking to get the film in front of the cameras this spring, so we’ll see how quickly those script problems can be resolved…

    Like

    • Eddie Murphy Explains Why He Keeps Putting Off Beverly Hills Cop 4:
      http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Eddie-Murphy-Explains-Why-He-Keeps-Putting-Off-Beverly-Hills-Cop-4-69722.html

      For about 20 years, news of a possible fourth Beverly Hills Cop film getting underway seem to sporadically come up, only to end in a false start. Despite that, attempts to revive the comedy franchise that essentially christened Eddie Murphy as a certified household name still continue. So, what is it that has been keeping this film from happening? Well, it seems that Murphy has been left once bitten, twice shy after the debacle that was Beverly Hills Cop III.

      In an interview with Playboy (remember when that used to be a thing, pre-Internet adolescent boys?), Murphy discusses the twists and turns in his long and storied comedic career. However, when the Beverly Hills Cop franchise came up, it seemed to show that it’s a topic for which Murphy has a proverbial banana shoved up his tailpipe. Almost similar to another recent interview when he implied that 1994’s nonsensical theme park romp of a third film was “another shi**y movie,” he would this time call it “garbage.” While his latest words seem to show kind of a love/hate relationship with the franchise, he is still very much in the market for a possible fourth film. When talking about international fans, he explained:

      ‘Hey, Beverly Hills Cop! Axel Foley!’ They call me that shit. All the movies I’ve done, and they call me that. If we do that movie [Beverly Hills Cop 4], it has to be right. Not just thrown together to get a big check. I don’t need anymore of those.

      It’s understandable that Eddie Murphy is choosing his roles with a huge degree of caution, seeing as he is one of the biggest examples in the annals of Hollywood of the consequences reaped by bad project choices. However, while Murphy shoots down rumors that it’s filming next month, he does confirm that Beverly Hills Cop 4 is still happening. However, he reiterates his determination to find the right script.

      I don’t think it’s gonna happen in March, but it is gonna be in Detroit. And before it happens, they’ve got to get that script right. That movie has to be right.
      Certainly Murphy’s career, which was white-hot coming off the first BHC in 1984, churned out one comedic classic after another. However, as the 1990’s approached, he took some serious missteps like Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, and the aforementioned Beverly Hills Cop III, relegating Murphy to the “where are they now?” corner for a time.

      However, a comeback hit in 1996 with The Nutty Professor would open the door for a new family-flexible PG-13 phase of Murphy’s career. He would be defined by over-the-top characters and lowbrow humor in films like Holy Man, the lukewarm Doctor Dolittle series, culminating in the notorious bomb of all bombs in The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which made the studio an embarrassing $7 million for its $100 million budget. While Murphy found himself an iconic gig voicing Donkey in the monumental Shrek series, it was clear that his live-action career had whittled back to its 1990’s lull. However, people still want to see him. This was especially evident when a 2013 attempt to bring Beverly Hills Cop to television with a pilot starring Brandon T. Jackson as Axel’s son would never even make air, apparently due to the fact that a cameo by Murphy overshadowed the new star.

      It will be interesting to see how Beverly Hills Cop 4 finally materializes. With that said, direct sequels, especially to what is now already a 31 year-old film, are especially problematic. From a marketing standpoint, it’s difficult to see arithmophobic Hollywood execs being on board with anything labeled “IV” that isn’t a campy horror movie. However, it could be the case that the new films take the idea from the aborted television pilot with Axel as the eccentric father of the main protagonist and turns up the comedy to a new level.

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  23. With Boomerang, Eddie Murphy tried reinventing himself as a romantic leading man:
    http://thedissolve.com/features/forgotbusters/889-with-boomerang-eddie-murphy-tried-reinventing-hims/

    For a man who whose most famous stand-up special featured him strutting the stage in a skin-tight red leather suit, Eddie Murphy has never been a particularly sexual screen actor. Despite being handsome and apparently not aging over the past 30 years, Murphy is much more likely to be seen hamming it up in drag, a fat suit, or both, than seducing a woman. That’s a big part of what makes 1992’s Boomerang such an outlier in his filmography. Sure, Murphy was a charming, adorable romantic lead in Coming To America, but that was a fairy tale first, a comedy second, and a romantic comedy a distant third. In sharp contrast, Boomerang afforded Murphy a rare opportunity to be not just romantic, but nakedly erotic, playing a character who frequently and guiltlessly gets with a broad spectrum of women.

    Murphy entered the guilt-stricken dad/silly fantasy gimmick/fat-suit portion of his career shortly after Boomerang, but in that one film, he plays a character rarely seen in American films of the time: a black man who’s also a proudly sexual, cultivated professional. Murphy’s Marcus has money and class. He’s assured enough in his place in society that when a snooty high-end clothing store clerk treats him, and friends Gerard (David Alan Grier) and Tyler (Martin Lawrence) with racist condescension, Marcus experiences pity for the racist clerk’s ignorance rather than anger at his bigotry. It’s worth noting that the exchange is also the only scene in the film that suggests the existence of racism. Otherwise, Boomerang occupies a post-Cosby Show realm full of rich, upper-middle-class African-Americans who rarely acknowledge race.

    Marcus is a womanizer, a legend among his friends for his way with women, and the trail of broken hearts he’s glibly left in his path. He’s also an advertising executive, the ultimate movie yuppie profession. As the film opens, Marcus tries to get an upper hand in his company’s merger with a company called Lady Eloise by having sex with the company’s voracious figurehead (Eartha Kitt). Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize she has no power, and is just a symbol of her company’s past. The audience is supposed to be repulsed that a woman of Kitt’s age is interested in boning, and amused when a reluctant Marcus insists they turn the lights out first. But Kitt’s performance subverts the sexism and ageism of the writing. She doesn’t play the character as a freak, just a woman in charge of her desires. Her charisma and attractiveness undercuts the film’s sexism, just as it kills much of the comedy.

    Directed by Reginald Hudlin from a story by Murphy and a script co-written by Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield, Boomerang cannot take a bold step forward without nervously skittering several steps back. The film is simultaneously fascinated with Lady Eloise’s strong, unapologetic sexuality, titillated by her, and more than a little repulsed. And that reaction doesn’t just extend to her, but also to the tellingly named Strangé, whom Grace Jones plays as an extended exercise in inspired self-parody. She’s the face and perverse personality of Lady Eloise’s new perfume, and she’s so comically uninhibited that at a fancy dinner where she sexually propositions Marcus, he needs to beg her to stop saying “pussy” like it’s the secret word on You Bet Your Life. But while the screenplay depicts the character as an outright freak whose life is some bizarre, sexually charged walking piece of performance art, Jones refuses to be reduced to a freak-show. Like Kitt, Jones both curdles the comedy and subverts the film’s strong, confused streak of sexism.

    But Kitt and Jones are ultimately secondary characters, women who fall far outside what the film considers socially or sexually acceptable. Our womanizing hero must bed them before he can get to the two primary contenders for his heart, and for what we’re assured is his amazing, amazing ass.

    At the time of Boomerang’s release, Robin Givens, who plays Marcus’ boss and lover Jacqueline, was better known for her personal life as the ex-wife of Mike Tyson than she was for a career that peaked with a long-running role on Head Of The Class. She was widely disliked, generally viewed by the public as a gold-digger who married Tyson for his money, then left. This was in spite of her obvious fear of him and his violent reputation. So her casting as a smart, determined woman who isn’t afraid to sleep with a man and then blow him off carried baggage at the time that it doesn’t today.

    Boomerang treats Jacqueline as a woman who approaches not just sex, but life, from a stereotypically male perspective. She’s skittish, if not outright hostile, about monogamy and commitment, loves to drink beer and watch sports, and is as aggressive professionally as she is sexually. In many movies, such as Disclosure—which was released around the same time, and has a similar central dynamic where the male lead is passed over for a promotion he was certain he was going to get, only to find it going to a confident, predatory woman he soon beds—a character like Jacqueline would be vilified as a ball-busting shrew, a scheming man-eater out to get all she can. But Boomerang doesn’t treat her that way, and there’s a wonderful reversal after Marcus and Jacqueline have sex and Marcus, who has previously taken great pride in his ability to seduce and then abandon any woman, begins acting like a lovestruck junior-high kid who has just had his heart broken for the first time. In addition to affording Murphy a rare chance to be an erotic figure, Boomerang allows him an even rarer opportunity to be vulnerable.

    As Marcus wonders why Jacqueline is cavalierly treating him the way he has always treated women, Murphy is as adorable as he is unsympathetic and entitled in the early scenes mapping out his credentials as a world-class womanizer. Boomerang is coarse and unfunny when it devotes itself to bro-talk, most notably due to Lawrence’s presence. He was red-hot at the time, and he’s mainly here to say things like, “How’s the coochie?” and “Something is wrong with the twizat,” which are the kinds of things Lawrence got paid good money to say onscreen during his commercial heyday, despite the film’s occasionally successful aspirations toward sophistication.

    Grier comes off much better as the sensitive member of the film’s trio of pals. When he’s set up with archetypal good girl Angela (Halle Berry) and Marcus, being Marcus, can’t help but fall for her, Grier’s confusion and disappointment are genuinely touching. Angela is the one the film ultimately posits as Marcus’ rightful girlfriend, a woman who looks like Halle Berry, but also fulfills the acceptable role of the comforting nurturer in her after-work gig teaching adorable moppets, in addition to being a dynamite cook and an accomplished businesswoman, albeit without the sharp edges that make Jacqueline unpalatable as a permanent partner.

    Boomerang is a romantic comedy where the romance and comedy are separated like the meat and the toppings in an old McD.L.T. container. As a romance that asks what happens, as the tagline suggested, when the player gets played, the film is surprisingly compelling and even progressive at times in its unwillingness to demonize Jacqueline for being attractive and having a libido, yet toying with the male lead’s heart and emotions. As a comedy, however, the film is often more subtly amusing than outright funny, apart from memorable contributions from John Witherspoon and Chris Rock.

    Re-watching Boomerang, I noticed a lot of lines that were recycled in hip-hop. Of course no movie is truly forgotten, and hip-hop seems to have remembered Boomerang a lot better than the rest of the population. Kanye West, for example, has referenced it repeatedly. Boomerang feels like a Kanye West kind of movie: upscale, sophisticated, sex-positive, progressive—but with a considerable streak of regressive sexism. Ultimately, Boomerang arrives at a pretty conventional moral: It’s okay for a man who seemingly has all the world has to offer, including a line of beautiful women competing to be his bedmate for the evening, to give it up for a monogamous long-term relationship, as long as it’s with the perfect woman.

    Boomerang is strange to watch from the vantage point of 2015. It’s a romantic comedy that’s really only funny when Rock and Witherspoon are onscreen, and a romance that’s compelling and unusual even though it isn’t particularly convincing, because Berry’s character is far too perfect, more an ideal than a person. Seen today, Boomerang is most interesting as a time capsule of an inspired moment in black pop culture, when In Living Color, Martin, Def Comedy Jam, and PM Dawn (who provide one of the hits from the soundtrack), were all thriving, and it looked like Murphy might be cinema’s next great romantic leading man. It’s too bad that he didn’t make more romantic comedies like this, because he has a real gift for vulnerability. There are moments when Marcus seems to disappear and Murphy emerges, most notably when Marcus is hurting after Jacqueline begins to brush him off. That’s exceedingly rare, considering what a closed-off performer Murphy was and continues to be. Some actors bare their souls every time; Murphy just does the work he’s paid to do, then goes home.

    I suspect Boomerang is half-forgotten in part because it represented for Murphy less a new beginning than a dead end. The film did just fine at the box office, earning more than $70 million domestically, and becoming 1992’s 18th most commercially successful film. Yet maybe Murphy felt a little exposed, because before long, he was donning fat suits of all varieties for the Nutty Professor movies (an opportunity to hide not just in latex and stuffing, but also in another filmmaker’s movie and legacy), voicing sassy donkeys, and playing dads who need to learn important life lessons. Murphy seems to have decided what kind of a career he’s going to have and what kind of roles he’ll play a long time ago, and they don’t include projects like this.

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  24. hes in a drama called cook it looks like oscar bait

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  25. According to a recent news report, Saturday Night Live will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary with a prime time tv special on February 15th, 2015…. and Eddie Murphy will actually be participating.

    That is actually huge news for a generation of fans who grew up with Eddie Murphy. It’s an understatement to say that not only is Eddie one of the biggest movie stars to ever come out of the SNL comedy factory over the last 40 years, but Eddie arguably saved SNL from being cancelled in its darkest days in the early 80’s. The fact that Eddie is going to actually be involved with SNL for the first time in 30+ years is pretty exciting news to me, and probably a few others as well.

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    • Yeah, I actually tweeted the news last night. It’s a big deal. I had been wondering for a while whether or not Murphy would return for the big anniversary. I will be watching.

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    • How Bad Can It Be? Case File #23: Saturday Night Live’s aborted 1980-81 season:
      http://www.avclub.com/article/how-bad-can-it-be-case-file-23-isaturday-night-liv-84591

      iscopo was not the only Not Ready For Prime Time Player to survive the Doumanian era. One of the darkest moments in the show’s history also contained the debut of one of its brightest stars: Eddie Murphy, who was introduced as a 19-year-old featured player with little screen time before steadily establishing himself as the show’s breakout star, a sly comic alchemist who could transform the hackiest bits into explosively funny comedy. Saturday Night Live seemed to go from black and white to color, Wizard Of Oz-style, whenever Murphy was onscreen. Even as a teenager, Murphy understood that the key to being cool was not caring; where the rest of the cast worked up a sweat straining for laughs, Murphy was effortlessly funny, with a delivery that only seemed tossed-off.

      Doumanian famously did not want Murphy on the show. (She wanted Robert Townsend in the Murphy slot.) She had the misfortune and questionable judgment to see a man with no future (Charles Rocket) as the future of the show, and the future of the show (Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo) as men with no future. But even Doumanian was forced to concede that Murphy’s riotous “Weekend Update” appearances were catching on in a way fellow featured players Yvonne Hudson, Patrick Weathers, and Matthew Laurance simply were not, and promoted Murphy from featured player to cast member.

      The first “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” sketch was a watershed moment for Murphy and Saturday Night Live. Murphy conclusively announced his arrival as a major talent with a parody of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in which Murphy plays a small-time street hustler who addresses the camera directly and talks in the soothing, familiar cadences of a children’s television host about decidedly kid-unfriendly topics. That intimacy proved crucial to Murphy’s ascent: Where his castmates struggled to connect, Murphy seemed to be talking directly to the audience, establishing a natural rapport with an audience desperate for a reason to laugh at a largely laugh-free season.

      Reduced to its broad outlines, “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” is nothing more than Mr. Rogers in the hood, but Murphy adds a pleasing specificity and depth to the character. Though the sketch veered uncomfortably close to crude racial caricature, Murphy ensured that viewers were laughing with Mr. Robinson, not at him. Mr. Robinson wasn’t just a hustler on the make; he was funny, smart, and sly, radiating confidence bordering on cockiness. He was, in other words, an early incarnation of the quintessential Eddie Murphy character.

      On a season powered by flop sweat and desperation, Murphy was calm and collected. In a standout “Weekend Update” appearance, Murphy posits that Abraham Lincoln never actually signed the Emancipation Proclamation, so slavery is still technically legal, but only people who are currently watching Saturday Night Live know that. So to determine whether a black person has seen the show, Murphy suggests approaching him or her and saying, “Hey, you black Alabama porch monkey, come with me. I’m your master.” Murphy’s deadpan delivery of the line absolutely destroys, giving the show a transgressive kick it often strained for, but almost never achieved.

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    • The Forgotten, Subversive History Of Eddie Murphy On ‘SNL’:
      http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/02/11/3621656/forgotten-subversive-brilliance-eddie-murphy-snl/

      After a decades-long hiatus from Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy, the show’s savior in its early years and, in terms of box office receipts, the biggest star to ever emerge from the cast, will return for the series’ 40th anniversary. Even though SNL is what launched Murphy—and even though Murphy is, in many ways, what launched SNL—Murphy hasn’t participated in any of these nostalgia-fests before. It will be his first time back at the show in 30 years.

      Chris Rock, interviewed in Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers and Guests, said, “Eddie was the biggest star. Anybody was says different is making a racist argument.”

      Murphy’s legacy has been obscured somewhat by his own doing: a run of lousy family flicks: all the Nutty Professor installments, Dr. Dolittle, The Haunted Mansion, the viciously-reviewed and barely-seen The Adventures of Pluto Nash. But before his movies took a turn for the mediocre-at-best, Murphy was a sensation.

      Murphy, only 19 years old when he joined SNL, told the kinds of jokes that you just can’t imagine SNL daring to do today: his cutting, hilarious and insightful sketches like “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” and “White Like Me” made fodder of race, racism and white privilege. He was a smash hit, a superstar, but his fame didn’t insulate him from the realities of being a young, black guy in New York. Fellow cast members and writers at the time recall that, even when he was the biggest thing on the show, Murphy couldn’t hail himself a cab.

      Even though Murphy “won’t talk to anybody about the show,” Rock said. “He’s not bitter about it, he loves it… I think he does get pissed when they make fun of him,” like in the infamous sketch from the ‘90s in which David Spade pointed to a picture of Murphy and said, “Look, a falling star!” “Only because the show would have gotten canceled if he hadn’t been there,” Rock said. “There would be no show. So he deserves a pass on that aspect. The show would absolutely have gotten canceled. There were really no stars.”

      Except one. “Eddie Murphy’s a star, man,” Rock said. “He’s probably the only guy of the SNL posse to embrace stardom—its Elvis.”

      I spoke with Live From New York co-author James Andrew Miller about Murphy’s incredible run on the show, his estrangement and his long-awaited return this Saturday.

      If you were to meet a martian unfamiliar with Saturday Night Live and all the major players, how would you describe Eddie Murphy and his role? Where does he fall in the SNL pantheon?

      I would put it this way. I would use four words: he saved the franchise. I think there are a lot of arguments to be made over who may have been the best cast member or the funniest cast member, but I think that 19-year-old Eddie Murphy hopped on Saturday Night Live at a time when its future was very uncertain. It was a time when it was without its godfather, Lorne Michaels. It was a time when there weren’t a lot of other standouts in the cast. I think some people had grown tired of it. There was no guarantees that this was going to go on… Many others played critical roles in SNL reaching 40 years on the air. But Eddie was vital.

      Some of these old sketches address race in a way that is so direct and cutting. I know people say stuff like this all the time, but it’s the kind of humor I don’t think they’d ever do today: “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood,” the Black Like Me parody, this one Weekend Update bit where he talks about Lincoln’s birthday and how the Emancipation Proclamation was never signed, so “Tomorrow, if you happen to be out and see a black person that you like, by all means, take him home with you.” Could the show just be more daring because Lorne Michaels wasn’t at the helm? Was it just a matter of, times were different?

      Think about it this way: the very famous Richard Pryor/Chevy Chase word association sketch, that occurred on Lorne’s watch. So I don’t think it’s necessarily a function of: Lorne wasn’t there. I think it’s more emblematic of the times back then. Do you think NBC would have done [those sketches] today? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with Lorne. Dick Ebersol [who developed SNL with Michaels and was the executive produer from 1981 to 1985] was giving a lot of freedom then, and I think the show was still very much trying to push boundaries.

      For what it’s worth, the years that Eddie was on the show were years that Lorne Michaels was not at the show. And why was that relevant? It’s because Lorne is the creator of SNL and the guiding force behind it at the beginning, had a lot more impact on what happened with the show than anybody else, and that includes Ebersol, who hired Lorne to develop the show… I think that, in terms of the show being protected, I think that Ebersol didn’t have the security, and the show didn’t have the security, during those years that they did during the first five years with Lorne.

      Wouldn’t that insecurity mean that the show was less likely to take those comedic risks under Ebersol’s tenure, when Eddie Murphy was in the cast?

      You might think so, but the oxygen for SNL has always been funny and noteworthy and getting things into the zeitgeist. So if you play it safe, I think you get in trouble. And I also think there was something quite powerful going on then, which Lorne established very strongly in the first five years and Ebersol continued to do to a certain degree. SNL decided it was going to do what it thought was funny and what it thought was cool, and if you didn’t like it, too bad. It didn’t pander… It wasn’t wetting its finger, holding it up to the wind and seeing what people laughed about… I think SNL in later years sometimes got into trouble when it shifted, a significant paradigm shift, when it decided “I think people want to make fun of this person” or “let’s try and do a sketch about that.”

      Was SNL unique in its willingness to take on racial humor in this way back in the early ‘80s?

      Other people in the culture were doing that, but not on broadcast television. So I think you have to give Saturday Night Live a lot of credit for going into places, whether it be race, sex, political satire, that not too many people were doing at the time.

      Talk me through Eddie Murphy’s work on the show. What made him so exceptional?

      The running start is, remember, Eddie is 19. Remember that when he first came on, I don’t think, quite frankly, there were too many people in the executive halls who understood what they had with him. I do think you’ve got to give Ebersol and a lot of the writers a lot of credit because they went heavy with Eddie. He carried the show. This is not, he would appear once and you’d never see him again. He took that show on his back and ran with it. I think that, when you think about, not only his versatility but so many sketches that became iconic in the SNL world: James Brown’s hot tub, Mr. Robinson, they were sensational. I think a lot of people were tuning in to see him. And because SNL is such a collaborative group, [this was the only time in] history of the show where a specific cast member has had that kind of wattage around him, where there was such a disparity between the star quality with one cast member and the rest of the cast. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell and Phil Hartman, they were all really great cast members, but they had other great cast members with them.

      Also, just looking through the highlights reel of his work on the show, he is in so many sketches by himself. And I don’t know how often you see that with anybody else, except for extenuating circumstances, like when Seth Meyers had the Update desk to himself.

      That’s another thing, too. Eddie had the ability to carry a sketch. He did a lot of solo sketches. And when you think about all the sketches over 40 years of SNL, there are very, very few to have just one person in them. It’s almost like a given, in the DNA of an SNL sketch, [to be a group]. Yet Eddie was able to do many of them.

      In your book, Neil Levy, the talent coordinator, is quoted as saying that at the time Eddie was auditioning to join the cast, Robert Townsend was already in the show and Jean Doumanian [who served as executive producer for less than a year, from 1980 to 1981] only wanted one black cast member and she already had “the black guy.” “She only wanted to hire one black actor and Townsend hadn’t signed his contract yet, so she signed Eddie.” Murphy had to start as a featured player, instead of as a regular. Was the motivation behind that personal for her, or was she trying to cater to a mostly-white audience, or to higher-ups at NBC, or what?

      That’s a really great question and I wish I had a better answer than: I’m not sure. I can’t figure out why exactly she did what she did. I know plenty of people were begging for Eddie to be a regular part of the cast. And let’s just say, for whatever reason, it’s clear that she didn’t want that.

      The way that Murphy’s old sketches take on race is so in-your-face and unapologetic. Today’s SNL deals with race in a way that’s much more meta and indirect: it’s a lot of self-aware commentary on the show’s own issues with casting, like that sketch with Kerry Washington last year, instead of jokes that really focus in on real racial issues. What do you think is going on there?

      I think that’s probably a little unfair to the Kerry Washington thing; I thought that was a pretty clever way of dealing with the pressure that they were under for not having a black female cast member. It’s interesting now that they went from a period of being criticized to, now they have Leslie [Jones] and Sasheer [Zamata] and it’s certainly not an issue anymore. They’ve dealt with that.

      But it’s not just the casting stuff: last year they had a pretty sharp sketch about Ferguson that was reportedly cut for time. Did they just not want to have a Ferguson sketch air during the regular broadcast and would rather disseminate it online where a younger, more liberal-leaning audience would find it instead?

      I think early on SNL, there was a rawness. I think things seemed quite bold back then because not a lot of places were doing it. Weekend Update used to be such a big deal. Now you’ve got Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver: they’re in a thicket of competition of doing the same kind of thing. So sometimes, it’s very, very hard for SNL to make that statement like they used to.

      Do you see anyone in the cast today, or in casts since Murphy left the show, who has filled Murphy’s role? Has there been anyone like him, in terms of talent or success or visibility?

      Eddie was a singular talent on SNL. I think it’s funny because when I interviewed Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson and other African-American male cast members, I think [Murphy] casts a big shadow. Thirty-five years later, he’s still, he’s so dominant. He’s so clearly up there on Mount Rushmore, you just can’t help but think about him. It’s very hard for somebody to emulate him or replace him. And the other thing about Eddie was, this wasn’t a guy from a sitcom. He was so young, he just came out of nowhere. It just was startling. It was dramatic. I don’t think SNL needs to do that with every single cast member, every single season. The 40 years of SNL read like an EKG. There are these incredible years and then there are recovery years and transition years, like a great ball team, you lose players. Kristen Wiig leaves, wait a minute, you’ve got Kate McKinnon. That’s what happens in the ecosystem called Saturday Night Live.

      What is the story behind Murphy’s estrangement from the show? This weekend marks a long-awaited return to SNL, but it’s hard to get a clear read on what, exactly, occurred that made Murphy not want to talk about or really associate in any way with the show that launched his career (and the show that, alternatively, he launched).

      I was at the 25th anniversary show, and the fact that he wasn’t there wasn’t lost on a single soul. And now, with two SNL books, I’ve interviewed 540 people and Eddie was the only one to say no… I threw all my Jewish guilt on the floor, I begged, pleaded and borrowed, and he said that it wasn’t personal; he just didn’t want to talk about it. And it broke my heart, only because, I was such a fan of his work on the show, and trying to write the definitive history of Saturday Night Live. I still wish he had been a part of it.

      So the bottom line is, I think it’s incredibly noteworthy, powerful and I daresay will be quite emotional, the fact that he’s coming back, and that’s great. I had a 10 page section in the book about the theories why Eddie didn’t come to the 25th reunion or wouldn’t talk to me, it was like, “something Billy Crystal said” or “It was a Playboy interview,” and of course he would never speak to exactly what it was. And everybody had their own theory. But it wasn’t like there was a huge fistfight. I really, to tell you the truth, I think there’s many explanations out there, probably a dozen, about why it all happened.

      Do you know what changed that made him say yes this time around?

      I don’t know, unfortunately, I haven’t talked to him. But I would say, maybe everything has mellowed through the years. Maybe enough people have made him realize just how important he was to the franchise. But I do hope that he talks about it.

      How do you think people would react to some of his sketches—I’m thinking particularly of Mr. Robinson, but any of the sketches about race, really—if they aired today?

      If Eddie Murphy was on the show now, it would be tweeted out the second after. I think a lot of people who even think they love Eddie Murphy need to realize there’s a body of work there that’s much more complex and deeper than they’d imagine. It’s incredible! Some of his sketches about race would be fodder for serious conversations, or at least, provocative conversations about race now.

      And the one thing I [learned], through interviews with writers and cast members, they always remember this kid who did amazing work on the show, but he couldn’t get a cab. That kind of juxtaposition is, I think, it’s just wild.

      Did they say anything about how he handled that contrast: being a star on set, then walking outside and not being able to hail a cab?

      There were times when he was really pissed off. And then there were times when he’d make a joke of it. He was a young black man in the early ‘80s. It was a different new York, and it also speaks to, even though he was becoming this huge celebrity, the way that we manufactured celebrities back then was, for lack of a better word, at a courtly pace. Now his face would be plastered everywhere. One of his sketches might be playing on the little TV inside the cab.

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      • Raheem Abdul Muhammed’s radio (December 6, 1980):
        http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/saturday-night-live-at-40-the-snl-story-told-through-its-sketches/3

        You can look at the sixth season of “SNL” — the first made without any of the original actors, and without Lorne Michaels himself — in one of two ways: as a complete calamity that led to the firing of producer Jean Doumanian and all but two castmembers not long after actor Charles Rocket dropped an F-bomb at the end of an elaborate “Who Shot J.R.?” parody, or as the season that discovered the biggest star the series would ever produce: Eddie Murphy.

        Either interpretation is valid, and in some ways they complement one another. Doumanian gets credit for hiring Murphy — then a skinny 19-year-old stand-up without much on-camera experience — but she also had to be talked into it (in “Live From New York,” talent coordinator Neil Levy recalls that Doumanian wanted to hire Robert Townsend as “‘the black guy’ on the show”) and somehow thought Rocket and others were more capable of carrying “SNL” into its post-Murray/Radner era. Murphy had to essentially overwhelm the audience into getting more burn, as he does in this early Weekend Update appearance as the first of his many recurring characters, Raheem Abdul Muhammed. Listen to how dead the studio audience is as Rocket and Joe Piscopo speak, and then to how they go absolutely nuts for Murphy as Raheem. That is the sound of people who have been waiting months for the new “SNL” to finally remind them of the old “SNL,” and who recognize this kid as the first newbie worthy of the tradition.

        When Doumanian and most of her actors (save Murphy and Piscopo) were bounced, veteran NBC executive Dick Ebersol took over, and he was savvy enough to recognize what he had in Murphy, who was allowed to take over the show to such a degree that, when his “48 Hours” co-star Nick Nolte backed out of an appearance at the last minute, Murphy became the first (and still only) active castmember to double as that week’s host. As the first “SNL” star of color (Garrett Morris was always an afterthought in the original cast, save for when he had to dress in drag), Murphy opened the show up to new arenas of parody (his James Brown was so good, he almost won an Oscar for playing the role seriously in “Dreamgirls”) and social satire (“Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” re-imagined kids’ educational TV for the ghetto) and brought such energy to the show that his co-stars — including some very talented comics in their own right like Tim Kazurinsky, Mary Gross and Julia Louis-Drefyus — became irrelevant. During that hosting gig, Murphy angered his co-stars by announcing, “Live, from New York, it’s the Eddie Murphy show!,” but he had as solid a claim for the show as a solo vehicle as anyone before or since. (Though I suspect Piscopo would argue this point forever and a day.)

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    • Reason why Eddie was aloof for 30 years towards SNL:
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072562/board/flat/240383416?p=1

      This is from an article a couple years back talking about his last hosting appearance on the Dec. 15 1984 episode. Here’s the gist: “Murphy certainly doesn’t show any love for Ebersol in this episode. Both the books Live From New York and Saturday Night note that Murphy resented the way that Ebersol initially acted like he was doing Murphy a favor by putting him on the air, and then shamelessly sucked up to Murphy after the success of 48 Hours and Trading Places. Murphy reportedly had a similar falling-out with Piscopo, who was his closest ally and champion at the start, and then tried a little too hard to ride Murphy’s coattails at the end. Castmates from that era, like Brad Hall, say that while they may have been jealous of the attention Murphy received, they always understood why he was such a favorite, and they say that Murphy himself was pretty friendly and easy to work with until the later days, when he’d show up late, surrounded by an entourage. But they also say that from the start, Murphy was operating in a different sphere. Brian Doyle-Murray says that Murphy blew off the chance to learn improv techniques from the legendary Del Close because he didn’t think he needed to be taught how to be funny. And when original SNL writer Michael O’Donoghue returned and started terrifying the staff with his furious speeches about how they all needed to destroy the show and go out in a blaze of glory, Murphy laughed right in the face of the infamous “Mr. Mike.”

      Outside of the monologue, about the only acknowledgment Murphy pays to his SNL past on this episode comes in the closing, when he gives a retiring crew-member a nod of appreciation and then hugs and kisses Louis-Dreyfus, one of the few people remaining from his era.” The article also stated that Murphy had to beg to be given sketches during the Jean Doumanian stint and was rejected week after week. This coupled with the competitive cut throat atmosphere at the time and having no affiliation to Lorne Michaels may have made it so Murphy never really saw the point in coming back in 30 years. Not to mention the fact that Spade went in on him several times about his movie career too.

      Like

  26. its gonna be awkward being bad blood between Eddie and snl crew. did u hear about his movie cook coming out this year looks like oscar bait its a dramatic role first since dreamgirls we all know how that turned out.

    Like

    • What Exactly Did David Spade Do That Made Eddie Murphy Stay Away From ‘SNL’?

      http://uproxx.com/tv/2015/02/what-did-david-spade-say-that-made-eddie-murphy-stay-away-from-snl/

      Last night, Norm Macdonald had an incredible Twitter explosion, detailing what went into the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special’s new Celebrity Jeopardy sketch, including, as we all now know, that the plan had been for Eddie Murphy to appear as Bill Cosby.

      One part of the story, long part of SNL lore, was the reason Murphy has never returned to the show.

      The last anniversary was the 25th. Eddie did not attend due to a remark by David Spade. David is a very kind man, but his remark was not.

      — Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) February 19, 2015

      So Eddie never came back.

      — Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) February 19, 2015

      So, what did David Spade say that bothered Murphy so much that he turned away from the show that made him a star?

      Murphy actually discussed this with Rolling Stone in 2011:

      Yeah, because they were shtty to me on Saturday Night Live a couple of times after I’d left the show. They said some shtty things. There was that David Spade sketch [when Spade showed a picture of Murphy around the time of Vampire in Brooklyn and said, “Look, children, a falling star”]. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, “Hey, come on, man, it’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I’m one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are f*cked up, and you guys are shitting on me?” And you know every joke has to go through all the producers, and ultimately, you know Lorne or whoever says, [Lorne Michaels voice] “OK, it’s OK to make this career crack…”

      I felt sh*tty about that for years, but now, I don’t have none of that. I wouldn’t go to retrospectives, but I don’t let it linger. I saw David Spade four years ago. Chris Rock was like, “Do you guys still hate each other?” and I was like, “I don’t hate David Spade, I’m cool with him.”

      Last month, however, he dialed back a bit on his previous statements and blamed timing.

      “It’s just timing. It just never worked out where the timing was right for me to do it … They’re actually having a 40th anniversary I think in two weeks. I’m going to that, and that’ll be the first time I’ve been back since I left.”

      There you have it. David Spade, timing, and an allegiance to Bill Cosby are on the list of things that have kept Eddie Murphy from returning to SNL greatness.

      Like

  27. Examples of actors getting Norbitted:
    http://officialfan.proboards.com/thread/517486/examples-actors-norbitted

    A term that can be credited to Podcaster Korey Colemen. The term comes from when Eddie Murphy was nominated for an Oscar for Dreamgirls and between the nomination and the ceremony itself the movie Norbit came out. People claim that this hurt Murphy’s chances of taking the award.

    It can be bad timing or the studio rushing out something really bad (maybe a film that was in limbo cause of how bad it was) to cash in on that there is a Oscar nominated actor in the movie. A couple of years ago it happened to Hugh Jackman who should have won for Les Miserable in my opinion. But then Movie 43 came out shortly before the Oscars which almost everyone agrees is terrible and it features Jackman with testicules on his face. Did it hurt his chances? I don’t even know how Oscar voting works. But the timing of it.

    Any other examples.

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  28. Party All The Time came out when I was in first grade. Some buddies and I changed it to Potty All The Time. Ahh the humor of first-graders.

    Like

  29. Why Eddie Murphy is, once and for all, done:
    http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/why-eddie-murphy-is-once-and-for-all-done

    It’s hard to call yourself a fan of someone who doesn’t seem to care
    By Drew McWeeny @DrewatHitFix | Saturday, Feb 21, 2015 8:55 PM

    Eddie Murphy was a miracle.

    Today, there is an industry around the show that is designed to be a sort of star-making assembly line, and I think many of the people who have used the show as a springboard to other things deserve that success completely.

    But when Eddie Murphy made his debut on the show in 1980, “Saturday Night Live” wasn’t even guaranteed a spot on TV for much longer. After all, the original cast was gone by that point. The new cast, including Denny Dillon, Gilbert Gottfried, Charles Rocket, Ann Risley, and Joe Piscopo, seemed like a poor replacement for the likes of Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray. I was a ten year old nascent comedy nerd, and for me, it was mystifying to see something that had been the absolute center of the comedy universe suddenly drop completely out of relevance. Everything about that season of SNL felt wrong to me, and I was getting ready to drop it as a habit completely.

    And then Eddie Murphy showed up. And pretty much as soon as he made that first Weekend Update appearance as Raheem Abdul Muhammad, it was clear that something new was happening on the show. Murphy’s voice was one that had not been in the mix on “Saturday Night Live” up to that point, and right away, there was an element of danger that made him thrilling.

    I look at Murphy now, and I see a guy whose sense of “danger” came from repackaging the comics that had inspired him, like Richard Pryor, through the filter of a kid growing up in a fairly middle-class existence in Brooklyn. He knew full well, though, how white “Saturday Night Live” was and how white TV in general was, and Murphy tweaked the culture that embraced him even as he made a play for super-stardom. And week in, week out, Murphy turned the fading variety show into appointment television for comedy fans because it was obvious that the show could barely contain all of his remarkable comic energy.

    For the next few years, Murphy did the impossible; he single-handedly kept the show in the cultural conversation. I don’t care what you say about the other performers he worked with on the show… it was Murphy that had people tuning in. If you weren’t an active “Saturday Night Live” fan when Eddie Murphy was introducing new characters every week, you can’t imagine what it was like. I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years the show has been on the air. When he made his entrance to a scene, it was pandemonium. If people recognized the character already, it was double pandemonium. Everyone had an impression of at least one of his characters, and for the first time, it was a black comic who was the driving creative force on the show.

    When Murphy first made the jump to movies, it looked like he was going to be even more electrifying. Again… you can’t imagine what it was like sitting in a theater for “48 HRS.” the first time an audience laid eyes on the scene where Reggie Hammond takes his borrowed badge into a country and western bar. There was an uneasy wrestling match for pop culture happening at that time, and with Prince and Michael Jackson establishing that the pop charts were no longer allowed to be lilly white, it was thrilling to see someone doing the same thing for movies. Eddie Murphy made my parents nervous, which was all the endorsement I needed to know that he was doing something right. Both “48 HRS.” and “Beverly Hills Cop” played with the friction caused by Eddie’s characters treading into what was typically thought of as “white space,” and that friction was both hilarious and genuinely edgy.

    When Eddie Murphy took the stage during the 40th anniversary “Saturday Night Live” celebration, it was an oddly quiet moment, joke-free and brief. I didn’t think it was particularly problematic, but I also didn’t think there was anything special about it, and it bummed me out as a fan to see how little energy Eddie brought to a celebration of what was, after all, his breakthrough. For several years, that place was his home, and he was the king there. Forget some shitty throwaway joke David Spade made years later, and forget whether or not Lorne Michaels fully appreciates what Eddie did for the show. I was saddened by his appearance for the same reason I am always saddened by Eddie Murphy these days: because he is done.

    All the evidence I need came from the account that Norm MacDonald shared a few days after the fact of how they had tried to get Murphy to play Bill Cosby for the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch. I’ve heard many theories about why Murphy didn’t do it, the most popular of which is that Murphy probably didn’t want to give Cosby any reason to dredge up Murphy’s own tabloid history, and maybe that played a part in it. But the truth is that Eddie Murphy’s comedy hasn’t had an edge in a long time, and once you give that up as a comic, that’s not something you can just return to ay time you want. Richard Pryor may have made more than his fair share of terrible sell-out movies like “Superman III” or “The Toy,” but his stand-up always remained blisteringly honest and uncompromising. Murphy hasn’t done any real stand-up in decades now, and he certainly doesn’t seem interested in being honest about himself or about where America is right now in terms of race. Murphy’s been making primarily family-oriented films for the better part of the last fifteen years, and the guy who shows up in films like “A Thousand Words” and “Daddy Day Care” wouldn’t even recognize the kid who made us laugh every week on “Saturday Night Live.”

    Watching Murphy react to Cosby’s scolding of him over language in “Eddie Murphy Raw” is thrilling because it was released right at the height of Cosby’s super-stardom. At that point, Cosby was America’s Sitcom Dad, a moral authority, and Murphy’s defiant finger in the face of that scolding was genuinely subversive at the time. Now we see an Eddie Murphy who is worried about seeming too mean, who didn’t want to say anything about Cosby that might be controversial later. You cannot be careful and be a great comedy voice. You cannot be concerned about looking cool and also be creatively free. I’ve said for years now that the only way to get a great performance out of Murphy these days is to put him under Rick Baker make-up, because the moment you don’t recognize him, Murphy seems to suddenly be funny again. He no longer has anything to protect, so he can be free to make the jokes that “cool” Eddie Murphy can’t.

    When I went to an early screening of “Dreamgirls,” I stepped outside and ran into Bill Condon, the director of the film, and as I started talking to him about Eddie, I found myself getting very emotional. It is hard for me to fully describe how possessive I was of Murphy as a star when I was young. I felt like his success was something that my friends and I were part of, that we were the ones Murphy was speaking to. And watching him slowly transform into this humorless weirdo has been upsetting precisely because of how much he meant to us. When I saw “Dreamgirls,” what moved me most about it was seeing signs of life behind those eyes of his. It was a real performance, and it was a promise that maybe he wasn’t done after all.

    But I no longer believe that. I think Eddie Murphy is afraid to offend, and if that’s the case, then I don’t think we ever see a return to form for him. He has learned the caution of old men, and that has killed the thing that made him so great originally. He was fearless when he was young, and that total lack of fear is what drew us to him. Eddie knew full well that anything he did was going to get a response each week, and he used that to challenge us and to challenge the celebrities that he mocked. Eddie punched holes in the ridiculousness of fame, and now he’s given himself over to it completely. Young Eddie Murphy wasn’t afraid of Bill Cosby, and he wasn’t afraid to tell anyone who wanted to force him to be “nice” to “have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up.” The Eddie Murphy who stood awkwardly on that stage last weekend and who had nothing to say is not the person whose work meant so much to me. There is plenty of righteous anger that can be summoned about Bill Cosby now. If anything, he is a more important target now than he’s ever been. After all, this is a man who now stands accused of almost three dozen rapes, and yet he’s able to get a crowd to turn out to listen to him tell jokes. One of the things comedy can do so well is puncture those who deserve to be punctured, and right now, that’s Bill Cosby in a big way.

    Obviously, Eddie didn’t have to do Norm’s sketch, and he obviously didn’t have to make fun of Bill Cosby. But I think it’s safe to say that his choices speak volumes about who he is and where he is, and whatever else Eddie makes in the future, he is no longer the artist whose work mattered to me. He may well make another “Beverly Hills Cop,” but I guarantee it won’t be anything like “Beverly Hills Cop.” He is no longer the outsider at all. He is no longer the fish out of water. He is a rich man, a careful man, and a businessman, and no one will ever be afraid of him or his wit again.

    And that is a damn shame, indeed.

    Like

  30. forrestbracket

    his next drama looks good dreamgirls proved that hes got the dramatic chops

    Like

  31. 7 Former Mega Stars Who Lost Their Box Office Appeal:
    http://www.fame10.com/entertainment/7-former-mega-stars-who-lost-their-box-office-appeal/5/

    Eddie Murphy

    Eddie Murphy used to be box office gold. He made a successful career for himself in the ‘80s as a comedic actor thanks to his roles in “Trading Places,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “The Nutty Professor.” Some still consider him to be Hollywood royalty; however, he’s not necessarily part of the A-class and he’s also considered overpaid. Aside from the “Shrek” movies, his films just don’t bring in the money like they used to, but his demands are still sky-high. He reportedly still asks for $20 million per film just like he did at the height of his career, plus he asks for a cut of the gross.

    In 2012, Murphy topped Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s most overpaid actors. “Meet Dave” and “Imagine That” flopped at the box office and his comeback vehicle “Tower Heist” only earned $125 million on a $75 million budget. He’s definitely lost his box office appeal.

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  32. Eddie Murphy to Play Richard Pryor’s Father in Biopic:
    http://411mania.com/movies/eddie-murphy-to-play-richard-pryors-father-in-biopic/

    Eddie Murphy will play Richard Pryor’s father in Lee Daniels’ biopic about the legendary comedian. ET Online reports that Murphy is in talks to play Leroy Pryor in the film. Mike Epps is set to play Pryor himself.

    Like

  33. How one performance changes everything in 48 Hrs.

    http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/959-how-one-performance-changes-everything-in-48-hrs/

    The best defense,” director Walter Hill told writer Patrick McGilligan in a 2004 Film International interview, “is a good script. It all starts there.” That line is part of a longer conversation about Hill’s conflicts with studios in general, and Paramount in particular. Hill depicts the company as never having confidence in 48 Hrs., the hit thriller/buddy comedy released to great success in 1982. Later, he seems to contradict himself, at least as far as 48 Hrs. is concerned, by complaining that studios “only think ‘funny’ is what’s on the page,” and that the early-’80s Paramount regime led by Michael Eisner didn’t think what was on the page was all that funny. His solution was to keep re-writing the script with partner Larry Gross, tailoring the material to their two stars: gruff-voiced tough guy Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, a 21-year-old comedian making his film debut after more or less taking ownership of Saturday Night Live at age 19. It may all start with a good script, but it hardly ends there.

    For evidence, look no further than Walter Hill and David Giler’s draft of the Alien script, which reads at times like beautiful, brutal haiku:

    That leaves more than a few blanks to fill. So does the screenplay to 48 Hrs., the product of several writers including, in addition to Hill and Gross, Larry Gordon, Roger Spottiswoode, Tracy Keenan Wynn, and Stephen E. De Souza. At one point destined to be a vehicle for Clint Eastwood and a Cajun foil in Louisiana, the script changed as the film evolved, and that evolution even continued during shooting. The X-factor was Murphy, whose unique screen presence essentially required the film to be tailored to his needs. This wasn’t a case of Murphy improvising, by Hill’s account. Some of Murphy’s ad libs made it into the film, but most of his lines came from the final script. Hill again: “Occasionally he came up with something really good, which I was smart enough to go with. I mean, he is a very funny guy when he wants to be. But let’s not get into the idea that William Powell and Myrna Loy really talked that way. They had writers.” That only sounds ungenerous to those who don’t know the value of a good performance, and 48 Hrs. doubles as a study of how one performance can change everything.

    People who haven’t seen 48 Hrs. in a while might not recall that Murphy doesn’t make his entrance until 24 minutes into the film’s 96-minute running time. Up until that point, it’s established itself as a violent, tensely directed Walter Hill thriller set in the grittiest corners of early-’80s San Francisco, and anchored by Nolte’s performance as Jack Cates, a cop-on-the-edge who really seems like he’s actually on the edge. (Witness the whiskey in the morning coffee.) Some of what makes the opening work could have been predicted from the script and the talent involved. Hill already had a record as a superb stager of action, and a poet of tough-guy characters. Some of it couldn’t have been predicted as easily, like the raspy depths Nolte finds in his voice, the chemistry he generates with Annette O’Toole—who makes a deep impression despite being stuck in the textbook thankless girlfriend role—and the easy-to-borrow seediness of the city. Then: Enter Reggie Hammond.

    Part of the brilliance of 48 Hrs. is the way Murphy’s character takes over the movie without fundamentally changing it. 48 Hrs. remains very much set in the dangerous world established in the film’s opening stretch, and Murphy’s performance makes clear that Reggie’s a product of that world. He’s just learned how to navigate it. If hadn’t, he wouldn’t have survived. That’s meant knowing when to shut up and when to bluster. When Reggie and Jack first meet, Reggie wants to shut up, even though Jack hears him before seeing him. Singing an off-key rendition of The Police’s “Roxanne” while listening to the song on his Walkman, Reggie seems to have settled nicely into his incarceration, content to do his time and walk out to a big payday. He’s got little interest in helping out a cop until it looks like that payday might disappear. Then it’s time to bluster.

    In 48 Hrs.’ most famous scene, Murphy takes control of a bar full of rednecks using little but attitude. “You said ‘Bullshit and experience is all it takes,’ right?” Reggie says to Jack—who’s previously used those terms to describe all a cop needs to succeed at the job—before heading into Torchy’s (a recurring location, at least in name, in Hill’s films). Once inside, he’s sneered at, condescended to, and harassed. Then the bullshit and experience kicks in, and Reggie draws on every hard-ass cop he’s dealt with in the past, or seen in movies, to stare down a crowd of racist hard-cases:

    Not everyone could have pulled that scene off. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling it off in 1982. Reggie doesn’t look the part of a tough guy. And in truth, he isn’t one. He’s just extremely good at playing the tough guy when the moment requires it, weaving humor and a touch of madness into the performance, and unnerving everyone around him. Then, as a finishing touch, he lets the toughness melt away and the fear show once he doesn’t have to play the part anymore.

    It’s a miniature of what Reggie does throughout the film, standing up to Jack, even matching him blow-for-blow when their conflict gets physical, but never doing anything recklessly, and always looking for a way out. Jack keeps pushing him, insulting Reggie in every exchange, and pelting him with racist jibes—and not the cutesy, coded jibes expected of a white/black buddy comedy, but ugly, unabashedly racist stuff that’s, if anything, more shocking today than at the time. In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt, Murphy offered his take on why such moments worked:

    You know why it worked then and the reason why it wouldn’t now? My significance in film—and again I’m not going to be delusional—was that I’m the first black actor to take charge in a white world onscreen. That’s why I became as popular as I became. People had never seen that before. Black-exploitation movies, even if you dealt with the Man, it was in your neighborhood, never in their world. In 48 Hrs., that’s why it worked, because I’m running it, making the story go forward. If I was just chained to the steering wheel sitting there being called “watermelon,” even back then they would have been like, “This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!”

    Murphy’s performance works in part because he knows how to let Reggie take the insults—from Jack and others—while making it clear he’s only taking them for now, that he’s playing the situation and biding his time until he can pay them back in full. It’s as edgy in its own way—maybe edgier—as any of the violence Hill stages around him. Another actor might have had audiences laughing at him. With Murphy, at this stage of his career, it was always a matter of getting viewers to laugh with him, even when those laughs became uncomfortable. Here’s a black star owning the room, be it Torchy’s or any other venue, and not softening a whit to make himself less commanding. He uses humor and charisma as weapons, a trick he repeated throughout the decade, but never as memorably as he does here.

    Murphy brings an element to the film that’s not in the script or the direction, as sterling as those are, and as much Hill can claim responsibility for both. The performance might not work as well without Nolte to push back against it, either. He plays Jack as an asshole who, if not racist in his heart, knows how to affect racism as part of his professional persona, which might even be worse. Yet while it’s possible to imagine somebody else playing the role of Jack, it’s impossible to recast Reggie. Murphy found a blank that needed filling—in this film, in others, in pop culture as a whole—and it fit him perfectly. A good script might be where it all starts, but it doesn’t end there, and some actors succeed by taking the material even further than the lines on the page suggest it could go, and bringing unsuspecting audiences along with them.

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    • Another 48 Hrs. plays like a bad cover version of the original:
      http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/962-another-48-hrs-plays-like-a-bad-cover-version-of-t/

      For The New York Times, A Classic Headline Construction. And for a belated cash-in on the 1982 hit that launched Eddie Murphy’s big-screen career, an inadvertently perfect description.

      Eight years separated 48 Hrs. from its sequel, Another 48 Hrs., giving audiences enough time to half-forget the details from the first one, which must have been what Paramount Pictures and the film’s producers had in mind. Another 48 Hrs. isn’t merely the continuing adventures of Jack Cates and Reggie Hammond, the mismatched buddies of 48 Hrs.; it’s an uncanny recreation of 48 Hrs., like a piece of particularly unimaginative fan-fiction. Seen back to back, the two films are a fascinating collision of parallel narratives and property management, but for those who waited the full eight years between movies, they played like a bizarre case of déjà vu. Here’s the lede to Roger Ebert’s review:

      You know how sometimes, in a dream, you’ll see these familiar scenes and faces floating in and out of focus, but you’re not sure how they connect? Another 48 Hrs. is a movie that feels the same way.

      And here’s Hal Hinson:

      The movie isn’t a disaster, and if you responded to the first one, its memory may carry you over the roughness, the excessive, ugly violence and lack of conviction here. Hill and his stars are merely going through the motions, but the motions are immensely familiar. If you’ve been there before, then you’ve been there.

      So it goes for almost every review of Another 48 Hrs., but the stand-out words here are “memory”and “dream.” We’re currently in an age where sequels and remakes are the preferred currency of Hollywood, which is always looking for big returns on safe investments. That’s also the thinking behind this film, which is as creatively conservative as a sequel could be. The difference is that we’re used to sequels expanding on their predecessors’ “mythology”: adding characters, extending serialized storylines, ramping up the effects and locations—anything to make a sequel seem like a new enterprise, even if it relies on the same basic formula. Another 48 Hrs. is like a classic rock band reuniting for an arena tour, and sounding a bit like its own cover band, in the hope that people will fork out money to hear the same old hits played with significantly less verve. At best, it’ll play just good enough to vaguely remind fans of the band in its prime. (The Pixies have been touring for years off that calculation.)

      Watching 48 Hrs. and Another 48 Hrs. within the space of a week, on the other hand, doesn’t feel like dreams or memories at all. It reveals a fascinating case of plug-and-play filmmaking at its most pedestrian, if not its most cynical. The title alone sounds like a child complaining from the back of a station wagon (“Are we there yet? Wait, another 48 hours?! Ugh. C’mon, dad!”), but the irony is that it’s completely meaningless. In the first film, Jack, a San Francisco detective played by Nick Nolte, arranged for Reggie, a convict played by Eddie Murphy, to be released to Jack’s custody for 48 hours to help solve a case. In the sequel, Reggie’s prison sentence is nearing its last day, but there’s neither a timeframe to his partnership with Jack nor any explanation given for the title at all. The only remaining conclusion is the candid one: We’re making the same movie again.

      After an opening sequence that establishes the black hats—redneck bikers, including one whose brother Jack shot in the first one—the déjà vu starts kicking in. Jack is a cop-on-the-edge who visits the streetwise Reggie in prison, seeking help yet again on a case. Though they ended the first film with a grudging, hard-earned respect for each other, they immediately start bickering here, with Jack whipping a basketball in Reggie’s face. Reggie returns to his cell, turns on his Walkman, and sings “Roxanne,” a callback to Murphy’s famous introduction in 48 Hrs. that in this context feels like a do-over. After the bikers attempt to pick off Reggie on the prison bus—one of a few action sequences that director Walter Hill stages like the consummate pro he is—he and Jack team up to exonerate Jack from a trumped-up manslaughter charge and track down “the Ice Man,” the-guy-behind-the-guy-behind-the-rednecks, who’s ultimately responsible for all this mayhem.

      It isn’t worth getting into the convolutions of the plot, which might owe something to the fact that Hill (or Paramount, or Hill at Paramount’s insistence) made deep cuts to the final product. In a candid interview, Brion James, a terrific character actor who plays Jack’s shifty colleague in the film, claims the studio cut the film down by 25 minutes a week before it opened. James says, “That’s the last time I ever cared about a movie, because I went to the press screening, and it was like getting kicked in the stomach, seeing what’s not there.” An actor seeing his role cut down doesn’t necessarily make a bad movie, or the cuts unjustifiable—see: Adrian Brody in The Thin Red Line—but it might explain why Another 48 Hrs. gets so little separation from its predecessor. If supporting players like James got all their lines in the 95-minute cut, it stands to reason that anything outside Nolte, Murphy, and the basic action were elided, too. All the colorful particulars may have been wiped away.

      The evidence onscreen is certainly damning. Another 48 Hrs. starts Jack and Reggie on a clean slate, mostly forgetting the camaraderie they developed toward the end of 48 Hrs. But the original film’s toughness and grit have been scrubbed away, too: Jack has made a transition similar to Mel Gibson between Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2, from cop-on-the-edge to “cop-on-the-edge type,” and the racist epithets he once threw at Reggie as part provocation/part prejudice in the first film are no longer present. The worst he does is punch Reggie in the face a few times to even the score, but that’s old-school Western machismo, not an unsettling commentary on race relations. Hill stages a shameless variation on 48 Hrs.’ most famous sequence, when Reggie takes control over a redneck bar filled with Confederate flags and hostile white men, but the bar patrons in Another 48 Hrs. are integrated, and race is neutralized. By way of compensation, here and elsewhere, Hill shatters more glass than a century’s worth of Jewish weddings:

      The mercenary rehash of Another 48 Hrs. is another reflection of risk-averse studios seeking to get the most out of their most popular properties, but it also reflects the reunion of Murphy and Hill. Between 48 Hrs. and its sequel, Murphy had become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, with two Beverly Hills Cop movies, Trading Places, and Coming To America under his belt; even a stinker like 1986’s The Golden Child, widely perceived as a bomb, was in fact a minor hit, purely on the strength of Murphy’s charisma. The Murphy of 1982 didn’t even turn up until 24 minutes into 48 Hrs., and the comedy in that film was mostly incidental to the action and buddy-movie friction, which was much sharper than the sequel. Another 48 Hrs. gives him a larger role, but he’s not playing Reggie so much as a version of Reggie that squares more with the laid-back, confident, wisecracking persona he’d refined throughout the decade. While I wouldn’t go as far as the Times’ Vincent Canby, who likened Murphy to “a walking 8-by-10 glossy,” there’s a disengagement to his performance that reads more as movie star than character actor. It wasn’t the last time he cruised through a movie without effort.

      As for Hill, his career went on the opposite trajectory throughout the ’80s, when his extraordinary mid-’70s-to-early-’80s hot streak (Hard Times, The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs.) smacked into a series of flops, some fascinating and accomplished (Streets Of Fire, Extreme Prejudice, Johnny Handsome) and others significantly less so (Crossroads, Brewster’s Millions, Red Heat). Another 48 Hrs. was Hill’s chance to get back on terra firma, which meant sacrificing a little of his personality to prove he could still deliver Hollywood genre fare of a high order. Hill considers every movie he’s ever made to be a Western, whether they literally qualify or not, and Another 48 Hrs. could be taken as the work of a studio hand of an older school, a satisfying piece of matinee fare.

      Back when I interviewed Hill for the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Bullet To The Head, he said that film was “not my biggest swing for the fences,” and it’s easy to imagine him saying the same thing about Another 48 Hrs. To him, there’s no shame in simply delivering the goods. The only trouble with Another 48 Hrs. is that exactly the same goods are being delivered.

      This wraps our Movie Of The Week coverage of 48 Hrs., which began Tuesday with Keith’s Keynote on how Eddie Murphy’s performance changes the film, and Nathan and Scott’s Forum digging into Walter Hill’s filmography, Murphy’s evolution, and the film’s depiction of racism. Next up in Buddy Comedy month: Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in Midnight Run.

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    • I just watched 48 Hrs. on Netflix recently, my first viewing in many, many years. I honestly don’t think I’ve watched it since the 80’s. I had forgotten many things about the film: that almost half an hour goes by before Murphy makes his debut; how shockingly in-your-face Jack’s frequent racist slurs towards Reggie are; how solidly enjoyable the film itself was; and of course how great Eddie Murphy was here, in his film debut. Murphy was a star on the rise on SNL in the early 80’s, and the moment 48 Hrs. released (and especially when it became a big hit) the whole world knew Murphy was now a big movie star. Paramount Pictures offered Murphy an exclusive 5-film movie deal after watching the final cut of 48 Hrs. months before it released, even before seeing it become a hit knowing they had a big star on their hands. His days at SNL were numbered before 48 Hrs. released.

      Murphy, to his credit, recognized a part of his popularity in his early films was him playing black men taking charge in a white world, something audiences in the early 80’s were not used to seeing. The cowboy bar scene in 48 Hrs. is the perfect example, and after watching that I got to thinking how the original Beverly Hills Cop also played with those conventions, for example Axel Foley smoothtalking his way into getting a room at the poshest hotel in Beverly Hills without a reservation by playing the race card. What, you don’t have a room for Rolling Stone Magazine’s Axel Foley? As much as I’m game for a 4th Beverly Hills Cop, I don’t know if it could ever be as good as the original because Murphy was convincingly playing a fish out of water, in large part because he was a black man entering the rich white man’s world in the early 80’s and taking charge. It was electrifying. The world has changed significantly in the past 30 years, when we have a black President of the United States it’s not cutting edge to see a (now middle-aged) Axel Foley still be believable as the fish out of water in Beverly Hills anymore.

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      • You make some really excellent points Craig. There really was kind of that novel element to the first BHC especially. I think that is part of what made it enjoyable to watch the Bullock/McCarthy film “The Heat.” It was novel to have women in a buddy-cop movie. I’m still hoping for a Heat 2 and 3.

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        • The Heat was a refreshing spin on the buddy cop movie formula. Apparently, Bullock won’t come back for a sequel. So it’s not happening. There is talk of a spin-off centered around the characters played by Jamie Denbo and Jessica Chaffin in the first movie.

          Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Feig apply the same formula in his upcoming Ghostbusters reboot. The fanbois who whined about women playing Ghostbusters need to get a life.

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      • Great comment. Agree with every word. Nothing more to contribute.

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  34. WatchMojo’s Top 10 Eddie Murphy Performances

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